PSU Announces Governor Barbara Roberts as 2007 Spring Commencement Speaker
Author: Angela D. Abel, Office of University Communications, 503-725-8794
Posted: April 3, 2007

Former Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts has accepted the University’s invitation to deliver the spring 2007 commencement address, Saturday, June 16, 2007.

“Governor Roberts has led the nation in promoting good and just public policy in areas related to education, civil rights, social services and workforce development,” said PSU President Daniel O. Bernstine. “Since leaving public office, she has made contributions through teaching, volunteering, and sharing her perspectives on crucial issues such as death with dignity. It is a privilege to award Oregon's first woman governor with a Portland State University Honorary Doctorate degree and I know she will inspire and motivate our graduates in her 2007 commencement speech.”

“This is a wonderful and special honor for me,” said Gov. Roberts. “Over many years Portland State has gained my respect and affection. I am proud to be recognized by this institution as part of their academic family. I look forward to joining the class of 2007 and celebrating their accomplishments on this important day.”

Gov. Barbara Roberts became Oregon’s first women governor in 1991, one of the first ten women governors in the United States, and completed her term in 1995. While Roberts was the Governor, Oregon was recognized by Financial World Magazine as the seventh best managed state in the nation. Currently, Gov. Roberts serves on the board of trustees for several major nonprofit organizations, including the Population Action International in Washington D.C., the Oregon 150 Commission and is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. Gov. Roberts is also an active public speaker, focusing on issues of death and grieving, leadership, women in politics and environmental stewardship.

Portland State University’s spring commencement ceremonies will take place on Saturday, June 16, at 10 a.m. in Portland’s Rose Garden Arena. For additional information, members of the media should contact Angela Abel at 503-725-8794. Students and families needing additional information should visit

Roberts began her career in public service as an advocate for children with disabilities in 1969. Over the next two decades she served on various boards, including Mt. Hood Community College and the Multnomah County Commission before her 1980 election to the Oregon House of Representatives. During her second term, she became Oregon’s first woman House Majority Leader. In 1984 she was elected Secretary of State and re-elected in 1988. From 1995–1998, she was the director of Executive Programs for State and Local Government Leaders at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

In 2005 the Oregon Legislature passed legislation to name the Human Services building of the state government, The Barbara Roberts Human Services Building. The Barbara Roberts High School, an alternative high school in Salem, was also named in honor of the Governor and serves a wide range of students including those who want acceleration and recovery, work experience, small learning settings of choice, parenting support, duel
High school and college credit options and flexibility of time through after hour options.

Gov. Roberts maintains an active role in the Portland State University community since her retirement in 2005 as associate director for Leadership Development in the Hatfield School of Government. She is a board member for the National Education for Women’s Leadership Oregon and is on the advisory council for Walk of the Heroines. Roberts has also served on the planning committee for the Urban Pioneer Awards event since its inception in 2001 and has worked to build the scholarship fund at PSU that honors her late husband, Frank Roberts.

Gov. Roberts donated her personal papers to the PSU Millar Library, and has encouraged other women political leaders to consider similar gifts. She also wrote “Death Without Denial, Grief Without Apology,” published in 2002 by NewSage Press. Roberts is a fourth generation Oregonian and attended Portland State University, the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and Marylhurst University.

For a photo or more information of Governor Roberts, visit

Portland State University serves as a center of opportunity for over 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Located in Portland, Oregon, one of the nation’s most livable cities, the University’s innovative approach to education combines academic rigor in the classroom with field-based experiences through internships and classroom projects with community partners. The University’s 47-acre downtown campus exhibits Portland State’s commitment to sustainability with green buildings, while many of the 120 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees incorporate sustainability into the curriculum. PSU’s motto, “Let Knowledge Serve the City,” inspires the teaching and research of an accomplished faculty whose work and students span the globe.

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Source: Debbie Murdock (503-725-5040)
PSU Government Relations