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Sen. Feinstein to speak at Stanford's 102nd commencement
STANFORD -- U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a member of Stanford's Class of '55, will be the featured speaker at the university's 102nd commencement Sunday, June 13, President Gerhard Casper has announced.
Feinstein, 59, easily won election in November as one of California's first two female U.S. senators. She previously was among the first women elected mayor of a major American city and, before that, the first woman president of a large metropolitan board of supervisors.
"Sen. Feinstein combines all the qualities of an ideal commencement speaker," Casper said. "She is a leader in many senses of the word: a pioneer, a person of authority and influence, someone of the first rank. She possesses both high intellect and down-to-earth realism. And she is, we can be proud to say, a Stanford graduate."
The daughter of a San Francisco physician, the then-Dianne Goldman graduated from Convent of the Sacred Heart High School in 1951. At Stanford, she majored in history and was involved in a full range of activities on campus, including service as president of Roble Hall, a 1953 Quad yearbook queen and vice president of the student body.
Speaking of her academic experiences in a 1988 interview, she said that Stanford had taught her much about her strengths and weaknesses.
"The broad curriculum allowed me to explore many areas and then concentrate in those areas where I was best and which I enjoyed the most," she said. "I also learned how to learn."
After Stanford, Feinstein briefly considered a theatrical career, then became a Coro Foundation intern specializing in criminal justice. Her work brought her to the attention of then-Gov. Edmund G. Brown, who appointed her to the California Women's Board of Terms and Parole.
In 1969, Feinstein ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and became board president. She came to national prominence on the morning of Nov. 27, 1978, when it fell to her to announce to reporters at City Hall that Mayor George R. Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk had been shot and killed just moments earlier.
The Board of Supervisors voted her mayor, and she was re- elected twice by the voters.
Feinstein went on to become the Democratic nominee for governor of California in 1990, losing narrowly to Sen. Pete Wilson. She then won election to the U.S. Senate last Nov. 4.
She has been awarded honorary doctoral degrees by the University of San Francisco, Antioch University, the University of Manila, the University of Santa Clara and Golden Gate University. Her other awards include the President's Medal from the University of California-San Francisco and honors from organizations ranging from the U.S. Navy and Army to the American Jewish Congress, the Episcopal Church and the Paulist Fathers.
Feinstein was selected as commencement speaker by President Casper from a list of candidates developed by the four presidents of the Stanford senior class - Brad Budney, Jason Dicks, Christina Hua and RosaMaria Villagomez. She accepted the invitation to speak extended by John Freidenrich, chairman of the Stanford Board of Trustees.
"It is definitely a good selection," Budney said. "We're happy with the choice as a group and think the class will be happy. We were looking for someone who had done something politically or socially positive and who had a Stanford connection."
Stanford commencement speakers in recent years have included modern art authority Kirk Varnedoe in 1992, Haas Centennial Professor of Public Service John Gardner in 1991, Children's Defense Fund president Marion Wright Edelman in 1990, and "Doonesbury" cartoonist Garry Trudeau in 1989.
About 3,000 graduates and 25,000 guests typically attend Stanford's annual commencement ceremony, which also will feature an address by Casper and presentation of awards for outstanding teaching and service.
Individual diplomas will be awarded after the main ceremony at departmental ceremonies scattered throughout the campus.
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