February 27, 2006 — Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine will be the commencement speaker at the University of Virginia's Final Exercises on Sunday, May 21, President John T. Casteen III announced today. As part of the 177th U.Va. commencement, Gov. Kaine will speak on the Lawn at 10 a.m., following the traditional academic procession.
Gov. Kaine has made education a priority throughout his public service career, from his first public position as a Richmond city councilman (1994-1998) to his two terms as mayor of Richmond (1998-2002), through his term as lieutenant governor (2002-2006) and now as Virginia’s 70th governor.
Calling education “the most important issue facing Virginia today,” Gov. Kaine’s current priorities include creating a new public university in Southside; funding early childhood education, including universal access to pre-kindergarten; fully funding the Standards of Quality program at the K-12 level; and eliminating the remaining underfunding of Virginia colleges.
Gov. Kaine, 47, grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Missouri and his law degree from Harvard University. While in law school, he took a year off to work as a missionary in Honduras. Gov. Kaine has said that his work there crystallized his call of duty to service and taught him “to measure your life by the difference you make in other people's lives — not by what you put in your own pocket.” His commitment to public service has guided him ever since, from fighting for civil rights as a lawyer in Richmond to serving in public office and making education a priority because of its power to change lives.
In addition to Gov. Kaine’s talk on Sunday, May 21, Finals weekend features Valedictory Exercises on Saturday, May 20. Bestselling American novelist and journalist Tom Wolfe, a native of Richmond, has accepted an invitation from U.Va.’s fourth-year class to be the featured speaker at Valediction, where class awards also are announced and the class gift is presented. Wolfe will speak at 11 a.m. on the Lawn.