SUNY Cobleskill Announces Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack will Provide Keynote Address, Receive Honorary Degree at 101st Commencement

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.

“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.


The following initially appeared in a SUNY Cobleskill media release 04.16.19