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U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is Eckerd College's 2011 Commencement Speaker

posted on 02/28/2011

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, senior senator from Florida, will be the speaker for the 48th Commencement of Eckerd College on Sunday, May 22, 2011.

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000, Senator Nelson has been in public office for nearly 40 years. He currently serves on the Senate Commerce, Budget, Finance, Intelligence, and Aging committees and is recognized as the leading congressional expert on NASA.

As a current member of the Senate's Commerce Committee, Senator Nelson has taken on the cause of consumer privacy by supporting measures to protect consumers from identity theft and working on legislation to stop unsolicited e-mails. Other priorities he has championed during his Senate tenure include: preventing oil drilling off Florida's coast; ensuring quality health care and benefits for military veterans and their spouses; and, fighting for a meaningful Medicare prescription drug benefit for seniors that allows the government to negotiate lower drug prices from pharmaceutical companies. In the wake of the 2004 hurricane season, he worked to secure adequate federal relief for storm victims.

Senator Nelson served his country as a captain in the U.S. Army from 1965 to 1971, both on active duty and in the Reserve. Senator Nelson's public service career began in 1972 with his election to the Florida Legislature. Elected to the U.S. Congress in 1978, he served six terms representing Orlando and the Space Coast. In January 1986, he spent six days orbiting Earth as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Columbia.

In 1994, Senator Nelson was elected to the Florida Cabinet as state Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshal. During his six-year post, he fought for affordable home insurance rates, cracked down on life and burial insurance sales abuses that targeted the elderly and minorities, and forced European insurers to honor unpaid Holocaust-era claims.

A fifth-generation Floridian, Senator Nelson was born in Miami and educated in Melbourne's public schools. He received a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia. Click here for more information about Senator Bill Nelson.

Previous Eckerd College Commencement speakers include: Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel, civil rights icon John Hope Franklin, journalist Eugene Patterson, novelist Dennis Lehane '88, Florida Congressman C.W. Bill Young, Poynter Institute President Karen Brown Dunlap, St. Petersburg Poet Laureate Peter Meinke, Florida Congresswoman Kathy Castor, businessman Steve Forbes, and General David Petraeus.

Eckerd College's 48th Commencement will be held on Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 8:00 a.m. on Eckerd's South Beach Field. Click here for more information about Commencement 2011.

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