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SUNY Cobleskill will award Thomas J. Vilsack, former Secretary of Agriculture, and current President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, a SUNY Honorary Doctorate of Science Degree at the College’s 101st Commencement on Saturday, May 11. Secretary Vilsack will deliver the keynote address at the ceremony.

Thomas J. Vilsack

“It is with great appreciation for his 30-plus years of service, especially to and for rural and agricultural communities such as our own, that SUNY Cobleskill will award Secretary Vilsack an honorary degree from The State University of New York,” says SUNY Cobleskill President Marion A. Terenzio. “Given his impact on issues at the heart of the education we provide, and academic ties to our region as an Albany Law School alumnus, Secretary Vilsack serves as an inspiration to our graduating students, and all who will be attending our 101st Commencement.”

In January 2009, Secretary Vilsack was confirmed as the 30th United States Secretary of Agriculture. His tenure in the position saw him become 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 as president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, Secretary 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.

About SUNY Cobleskill:

With an emphasis on applied learning and experiential, interdisciplinary education, SUNY Cobleskill prepares students for successful careers, advanced studies, and engaged citizenship. An accredited, baccalaureate, residential college, SUNY Cobleskill fosters a rich academic tradition that spans more than 100 years. Today, students are enrolled in 58 baccalaureate and associate degree programs offered through two schools – The School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and The School of Business and Liberal Arts and Sciences. A contiguous farm, with an equestrian center and 200-cow dairy facility is housed on the modern, 902-acre campus, that features outstanding educational facilities including cold and warm water fish hatcheries, specialized classrooms and laboratories, two state-of-the-art culinary arts teaching kitchens, a student-run restaurant, child development and child care centers, and an art gallery and graphic design center. More information about SUNY Cobleskill can be found at