Thomas H. Kean, the former New Jersey governor who served as the chairman of the 9/11 Commission, will speak at the 52nd Eckerd College Commencement on Sunday, May 17.
A former president of Drew University, Gov. Kean earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University and a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University Teacher’s College. Known as a consensus-builder, he is the author of The Politics of Inclusion, which advocated for political cooperation among major parties and competing interest groups.
“Gov. Kean is an excellent choice as our Commencement speaker this year, given his impressive experience and deep insights regarding areas of contemporary importance,” said Eckerd President Donald Eastman. “He is uniquely qualified to offer perspective on the continuing and seemingly intractable threat of terrorism in our world. In addition, as an educational leader, he has been a bold and thoughtful spokesperson for educational reform at all levels and for the unique contribution of the residential liberal arts college to U.S. higher education. Finally, in a national political context often characterized by vitriolic disagreements along partisan lines, Gov. Kean has embodied in his public life the kind of consensus-building leadership that our country so desperately needs today.”
Initially a teacher of history and government, Gov. Kean was first elected to public office as a Republican Assemblyman in New Jersey in 1967. In 1981, he was elected Governor of New Jersey and was reelected in 1985 with an historic margin of victory. His tenure as governor was marked by a focus on education advocacy, welfare reform, environmental advocacy, support for the arts and the advancement of equal opportunity.
He was named president of Drew University in 1990, serving 15 years and leading initiatives that focused on the use of technology in the liberal arts and expanded international education.
In 2002, President George W. Bush named Gov. Kean the chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, better known as the 9/11 Commission. He later co-authored the book Without Precedence: The Inside Story of the 911 Commission.
He now serves as co-chair of the New Jersey Campaign for Achievement Now (JerseyCAN), an educational advocacy group.