Whittier College News Release


Whittier College
Office of Public Relations

Phone:  562.907.4912 or 562.907.4277

Email: mediarelations@whittier.edu 


WHITTIER, CA (April 23, 2007) – Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa will give the keynote address and receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters (LHD) during Whittier College’s 104th Commencement, taking place on the Whittier campus at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, May 25, 2007.  

A native of Southern California, Villaraigosa has risen from the City Terrace section of East Los Angeles to become one of the most admired and respected leaders of a major metropolitan area. Elected the 41st mayor of the city of Los Angeles, he is the first Latino to lead it since 1872. The example of his rise to high office and subsequent success will undoubtedly resonate with and inspire the graduates, alumni, and students of Whittier College, a federally-designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, and one that reports a 27 percent Latino student body. (In 2006, U.S. News & World Report listed Whittier as the fourth most diverse liberal arts college in the nation, and first in terms of Latino population.) 

“We are honored to welcome Mayor Villaraigosa to our campus,” said Whittier President Sharon Herzberger. “Like the mayor, our students are deeply committed to education, enterprise, and public service, and they know it takes hard work and persistence to achieve change for the greater good. We look forward to hearing the mayor’s own thoughts on the practicalities and possibilities of leadership and service—both here in America, and in a global world." 

“It is a great honor to be this year’s keynote speaker for the class of 2007 of Whittier College,” said Mayor Villaraigosa.  “This year’s graduates take their place in a long line of Whittier College graduates, who for 120 years have been distinguishing themselves and bringing credit to this great institution in every discipline and in every field of human endeavor.” 

Antonio Villaraigosa was elected mayor of Los Angeles in 2005 after narrowly losing a bid for the office four years before—but the pluck he showed in running a second time was typical. The eldest of four children, he was raised by a single mother in a largely working-class immigrant community. He attended Theodore Roosevelt High School and is a graduate of UCLA and People’s College of Law, a progressive community-run law school in Los Angeles.  

Villaraigosa has devoted his professional life to public service, having worked as a field representative for the United Teachers of Los Angeles and later as a California Assemblyman, during which time he also served as speaker. He served in the California Assembly a total of eight years and was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 2003.  

As mayor, Villaraigosa has made transportation, public safety, and reform of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the nation, cornerstones of his administration. He has worked to improve the quality of education available to all students and has proposed a plan to improve student success, graduation rates, and narrow achievement gaps.  

Founded by Quakers in 1887, Whittier College is an independent, four-year college offering a traditional liberal arts program integrated with both professional and pre-professional courses of study. With an emphasis on diversity, community, and curricular innovation, the College’s primary mission is to endow students with the education, skills, and values appropriate for global leadership and service. Whittier College is a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). 

Whittier College Office of Communications
13406 Philadelphia » P.O. Box 634 » Whittier, CA 90608-0634
Tel: (562) 907-4213 » Fax: (562) 907-4927