U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez to Deliver Law School 2014 Commencement Address
FEBRUARY 28, 2014—The University of Minnesota Law School is pleased to announce that U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez will deliver the 126th commencement address to the J.D. and LL.M. classes of 2014 at the newly remodeled Northrop Auditorium on May 17 at 10:00 a.m. "The Law School community is honored and excited to have Secretary Perez join us," said Dean David Wippman. "As someone with such a distinguished career in public service, Secretary Perez exemplifies a core principle at the Law School: that lawyers can accomplish good in our community and society at large."
Secretary Perez has spent his entire career in public service. Prior to his confirmation as labor secretary in July 2013, he served for four years as assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, overseeing its efforts to enforce federal laws that prohibit discrimination and uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all who live in the United States. Under his leadership, the Civil Rights Division secured many notable milestones, including implementing the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act; expanding equal housing opportunity by bringing and settling the largest fair-lending cases in history; protecting schoolchildren from discrimination, bullying and harassment; dramatically expanding access to employment, housing and educational opportunities for people with disabilities; protecting the right to vote for all eligible voters; ensuring that communities have effective and democratically accountable policing; safeguarding the employment, housing, fair lending and voting rights of military service members; and expanding the division's partnerships across federal agencies to address cross-cutting challenges in human trafficking, employment discrimination and fair lending, among others.
From 1995 to 1998 Perez served as special counsel to the late Senator Edward Kennedy, advising him on civil rights, criminal justice, and constitutional issues, and from 1999 to 2001 he directed the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2002 Perez became the first Latino elected to the Montgomery County (Md.) Council, where he served for four years. He was a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law for six years, and he has taught at the George Washington School of Public Health. Perez holds an A.B. in international relations and political science from Brown University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an M.P.P. in public policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.