Willamette announces commencement speakers, honorary degree recipients

by Adam Torgerson,

At Willamette’s May 13 commencement ceremony, the university will award honorary degrees to community leader Hazel Patton, to former governor Ted Kulongoski and to Pink Martini pianist Thomas Lauderdale, who will deliver the undergraduate commencement address.

At 9 a.m., Kulongoski will deliver the commencement address for the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, and Oregon Supreme Court Justice Lynn Nakamoto will address College of Law graduates at 11:30 a.m.

For more information about all of the university’s commencement ceremonies, including schedules, speaker biographies and live-streams, go to willamette.edu/events/commencement.

Thomas Lauderdale: Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts

Thomas Lauderdale

Pianist Thomas Lauderdale formed Pink Martini in 1994 and has become a notable leader in Oregon's arts community. On May 13 at 3 p.m., Lauderdale will deliver the commencement address for Willamette University’s College of Liberal Arts, and Lauderdale will receive an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts.

Lauderdale has a long history of service and activism. He currently serves on the boards of the Oregon Symphony, Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Oregon Historical Society, Confluence Project with Maya Lin and the Derek Rieth Foundation.

Hazel Patton: Honorary Doctor of Public Service

Hazel Patton

Community leader, activist and historic preservationist, Hazel Patton will receive an Honorary Doctor of Public Service at the commencement ceremony.

Since moving to Salem in 1971, Patton has inspired and motivated thousands of people from diverse backgrounds, politics and interests to join together and do good in the community.

Theodore R. Kulongoski: Honorary Doctor of Laws

Theodore R. Kulongoski

Ted Kulongoski served as the 36th Governor of Oregon from 2003 to 2011. He served in both houses of the Oregon Legislative Assembly and also served as Oregon’s Insurance Commissioner. Also as Attorney General of Oregon from 1993 to 1997 and as an Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court from 1997 to 2001, Kulongoski has the rare distinction of having served in all three branches of Oregon’s state government. 

Kulongoski will receive the Glenn L. Jackson Leadership Award in recognition of his extraordinary entrepreneurial and civic leadership benefiting the State of Oregon.

Lynn Nakamoto: College of Law Commencement Speaker

Lynn Nakamoto

Commencement for the university’s College of Law will begin at 11:30 a.m. and features an address by Justice Lynn Nakamoto, who was appointed by Governor Kate Brown in January 2016 to the Oregon Supreme Court. Prior to her appointment, she was a judge for the Oregon Court of Appeals.

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