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Former trade rep among commencement speakers

April 30, 2001 By Barbara Wolff

Charlene Barshefsky, U.S. trade representative during the Clinton administration, will offer advice and encouragement to new graduates from the College of Letters and Science during commencement exercises this spring.

Barshefsky, a UW–Madison alumna who received her bachelor’s degree in political science in 1972, will speak at both ceremonies Saturday, May 19.

During her tenure as U.S. trade representative, Barshefsky was pivotal in negotiating more than 300 trade agreements, including the historic bilateral access agreement with China in 1999. The agreement is the most comprehensive, detailed and specific trade agreement ever negotiated with China, encompassing agriculture, services, industrial goods and fair trade rules.

A native of Chicago, Barshefsky arrived in Madison during the height of the anti-war movement in 1968. After graduation, she earned a law degree from Catholic University and specialized in trade law. In 1976, she joined the Washington firm of Steptoe and Johnson, and assumed her cabinet position in 1997. Currently she is a visiting public policy scholar at The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

Senior class officers play a key role in choosing commencement speakers. Senior Class President Adam Briggs, majoring in political science, history and East Asian studies, says class officers are thrilled that Barshefsky will be speaking at her alma mater.

“As our country’s former trade ambassador to the rest of the world, and someone who has worked on international trade issues at the highest levels, she has a unique perspective on the importance of an international education,” says Briggs.

UW–Madison’s two honorary degree recipients, Pratima Kale and George B. Schaller, will deliver the “charge to the graduates” Sunday, May 20. Wildlife conservationist Schaller will address graduates at 10 a.m.; international activist Kale will speak at 2 p.m. Schaller and Kale will receive their honorary degrees Friday, May 18 at 5:30 p.m. Degrees to Ph.D., professional and master of fine arts students will be awarded at this ceremony.

Other ceremonies are scheduled through the weekend:

  • Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m.: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the College of Letters and Science to students with majors A-I (African Languages and Literature through Italian). Multiple majors should attend the ceremony of the major that is first alphabetically; for example, an economics/political science major should come to the 10 a.m. ceremony. Speaking: Senior Class Secretary Sam Herbst.
  • Saturday, May 19 2 p.m.: L&S bachelor’s and master’s degree candidate with majors J-Z (Japanese through zoology). Speaking: Briggs.
  • Sunday, May 20, 10 a.m.: Agriculture, education, human ecology, medicine, nursing, pharmacy bachelor’s and master’s degrees; and Institute for Environmental Studies degrees. Speaking: Senior Tiffany Davis.
  • Sunday, May 20, 2 p.m.: Business and engineering bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Speaking: Senior Chad Brown.

All ceremonies will be in the Kohl Center. Degree candidates are asked to arrive 20 minutes before their ceremony. UW–Madison commencement is a free public event; no tickets are required. Parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis in adjacent university lots and on the street. Alcohol is prohibited at all commencement events.

For information, call the Commencement Hotline, (608) 262-9076.

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