UW News

April 13, 2016

Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, to be UW’s 2016 commencement speaker

UW News

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, a 1978 graduate of the UW and a former member of the UW Board of Regents, will be the featured speaker at the University of Washington’s Commencement exercises Saturday, June 11.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.U.S. Department of the Interior

Jewell was sworn in on April 12, 2013, as the 51st Secretary of the Interior, leading an agency with more than 70,000 employees.

“She is an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future,” President Barack Obama said in nominating Jewell for her post. “She is committed to building our nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country. She knows the link between conservation and good jobs. She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress; that in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand.”

Interior serves as steward for approximately 20 percent of the nation’s lands, including national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other public lands; oversees the responsible development of conventional and renewable energy supplies on public lands and waters; is the largest supplier and manager of water in the 17 Western states; and upholds trust responsibilities to the 567 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.

“Sally Jewell epitomizes what we hope for our graduates each year — that they will leave the University and embark upon a career that will change lives and change the world,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce said. “She has excelled at everything she has done, and we are thrilled that she will be joining us to help celebrate this pivotal moment in the lives of our students. Couldn’t be better, and the fact that she is one of our own makes it even more special.”

Jewell will also be on hand to receive the Alumna Summa Laude Dignata award, presented annually to a former University of Washington student whose achievements have earned her or him national or international prominence, during the UW Awards of Excellence ceremony in Meany Hall on June 9. It is the highest award the UW and the UW Alumni Association can bestow upon a graduate.

Prior to her Interior appointment, Jewell served as president and CEO of REI, having been named to that position in 2005 after five years as the company’s chief operating officer.

During that time, Jewell also served on the UW Board of Regents, having been appointed by then-Gov. Gary Locke in October 2001 and serving until the day before she was sworn in as Secretary of the Interior. Jewell’s tenure on the Board of Regents included serving as chair in 2005-06, vice chair in 2004-05, as representative to the UW Medicine Board from 2007 to 2013 and, at various times, as chair or vice chair of the Finance, Audit and Facilities and Academic and Student Affairs committees, as well as serving on two UW presidential search advisory committees. She earned her UW degree in mechanical engineering.

The University of Washington’s 141st Commencement ceremonies will take place at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. President Cauce will officiate. An audience of about 40,000 family members and friends is expected, and more than 5,000 of the UW’s 12,500 2015-16 academic year graduates in Seattle are projected to attend.