Portrait of Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright is Bucknell’s 2019 Commencement Speaker

February 1, 2019

by Mike Ferlazzo

Seniors chose Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State, as their Commencement speaker. Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright — a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2012 — will deliver the keynote address at Bucknell University's 169th Commencement on Sunday, May 19.

Albright, the first female secretary of state and the 64th overall, is among the highest-ranking women in the history of the U.S. government. During her service from 1997 to 2001, she reinforced U.S. alliances, advocated for democracy and human rights, and promoted American trade, business, labor and environmental standards abroad.

"Secretary Albright's life of courageous service has not only left an indelible mark on the world in which we live, but it is also a profound example of what one can achieve when equipped with the critical-thinking skills, creativity and intellectual curiosity associated with a broad education," Bucknell President John Bravman said, noting that Albright earned her bachelor's degree with honors from Wellesley College before earning master's and doctoral degrees from Columbia University.

Distinguished diplomat
Albright's international leadership spans decades. From 1993 to 1997, she served as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations and was a member of the President's Cabinet. From 1989 to 1992, she served as the president of the Center for National Policy. Previously, she was a member of President Jimmy Carter's National Security Council and White House staff and served as chief legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Edmund S. Muskie. In 2009, she was asked by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to chair a group of experts focused on developing NATO's New Strategic Concept.

Currently a professor in the practice of diplomacy at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, Albright also serves as the chair of both Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm, and Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm. In addition, she chairs the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and serves as the president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation. She is a member of the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Policy Board and the Board of the Aspen Institute.

A best-selling author, Albright's latest book is Fascism: A Warning, which became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller last spring. Her five other New York Times bestsellers include her autobiography, Madam Secretary: A Memoir (2003); The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs (2006); Memo to the President: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership (2008); Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box (2009); and Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 (2012).

"It is a true honor to have Secretary Albright accept our invitation to speak at Commencement," said Bucknell Class of 2019 President Laura Bart. "The work that she's done to both break down barriers for women at the highest level of U.S. international diplomacy and to fight for democracy and human rights across the globe are true sources of inspiration that will no doubt resonate with the senior class."

Commencement 2019
Bucknell University's 169th Commencement celebration will be held on the Malesardi Quadrangle on Sunday, May 19, beginning at 10 a.m. For those unable to attend, the ceremony will be live streamed. The ceremony will also be simulcast in Trout Auditorium, located in the Vaughan Literature Building.