2018 Commencement Speaker & Honorary Degree Recipients

Thomas LauderdaleThomas Lauderdale

Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts & 2018 Commencement Speaker

Thomas Lauderdale is a musician known largely for his work with the Portland-based band he founded, Pink Martini.

He has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras and ensembles, including the Oregon Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Portland Youth Philharmonic, Chamber Music Northwest and Oregon Ballet Theatre (where he collaborated with choreographer James Canfield and visual artists Storm Tharp and Malia Jensen on a ballet based on Felix Salten’s Bambi, written in 1923). In 2008, he played Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F with the Oregon Symphony. He returned as soloist with the Oregon Symphony in multiple concerts in 2011, and again in 2015, under the direction of Carlos Kalmar.

Active in Oregon politics since a student at U.S. Grant High School (where he was student body president), Thomas served under Portland Mayor Bud Clark and Oregon governor Neil Goldschmidt. In 1991, he worked under Portland City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury on the drafting and passage of the city’s civil rights ordinance. He graduated with honors from Harvard with a degree in History and Literature in 1992.

Instead of running for political office, he founded a band. Drawing inspiration from music from all over the world – crossing genres of classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop – and hoping to appeal to people of all political persuasions, he founded the “little orchestra” Pink Martini in 1994 to provide more beautiful and inclusive musical soundtracks for political fundraisers for causes such as civil rights, affordable housing, cleaning up the Willamette River, funding for libraries, public broadcasting, education and parks.

Lauderdale 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.

Theodore R. KulongoskiTheodore R. Kulongoski

Honorary Doctor of Laws

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 the state Insurance Commissioner. He was the Attorney General of Oregon from 1993 to 1997 and 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 the Oregon state government.

Hazel PattonHazel Patton

Honorary Doctor of Public Service

Hazel Patton is a community leader, activist and historic preservationist, who has inspired and motivated thousands in the Salem community for over forty years.

Since moving to Salem in 1971, Patton has been at the forefront of community service and activism. She is known as someone who can gather people from diverse backgrounds, politics, and interests, and motivate them to join together and to contribute their time, skills, and energy toward positive action to create something good in the community.

Willamette University


900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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