COBLESKILL – Thomas J. Vilsack, U.S secretary of agriculture in the Obama Administration, will deliver the commencement address Saturday, May 11, at SUNY Cobleskill and receive an honorary doctor of science degree. He is currently president/CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
Confirmed in 2009, he was the longest-serving member of President Obama’s original cabinet, over which time he advocated on behalf of American farmers and agriculturalists, and pioneered initiatives aimed at environmental defense and food security. He has been recognized for his contributions by Congressional Hunger Center, Global Child Nutrition Foundation, and American Farm Bureau.
Secretary Vilsack served two terms in the Iowa Senate before his election to the governorship in 1998. As two-term Governor he advanced the role of education in rural community innovation, business, and technology, and increased cooperation between farmers and biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and energy companies.
In his current position, Vilsack oversees and implements programs to enhance global demand for U.S. dairy products. He has previously chaired the Democratic Governors Association, Governor’s Biotechnology Partnership, and National Governors Association’s Natural Resources Committee, and served on the board of directors of Feeding America. Secretary Vilsack was GENYOUth’s 2017 Vanguard Award recipient, for exemplary courage, compassion, and leadership in the service of youth.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Hamilton College prior to his J.D. from Albany Law School.