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Gallaudet University is pleased to announce United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will be the speaker for the 144th Commencement on May 17, 2013. Secretary LaHood will also receive the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Secretary LaHood was appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives to Gallaudet Board of Trustees in 1997 and he served until 2009 when he became the 16th Secretary of Transportation. During his time on the Gallaudet Board, Secretary LaHood was involved in the Financial and Institutional Affairs committee.

During his years on the Gallaudet Board of Trustees, Secretary LaHood participated in the Annual Business Campaign to support university programs, Gallaudet 10th anniversary celebration in 2000 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and was a mentor and role model to deaf students from Illinois at the university and the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center by meeting with them during his visits to the campus as well as welcoming them to his office on Capitol Hill, said Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz.

As Secretary of Transportation, LaHood currently oversees an agency of more than 55,000 employees and a $70 billion budget for air, maritime, and surface transportation missions.

Prior to his position as Secretary of Transportation, LaHood spent 14 years in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 18th District of Illinois. During that time he served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Appropriations Committee. Prior to his election to the House, he was Chief of Staff to U.S. Congressman Robert Michel, whom he succeeded in representing the 18th District, and as District Administrative Assistant to Congressman Thomas Railsback. He was also a member of the Illinois State Legislature.

Secretary LaHood started his career as a junior high school teacher. He was also director of the Rock Island County Youth Services Bureau and Chief planner for the Bi-States Metropolitan Planning Commission in Illinois.

Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.

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