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Surin Pitsuwan ’72, Secretary-General of ASEAN, Set as Commencement Speaker

March 4, 2009

by The Forum
Surin Pitsuwan ’72, Secretary-General of ASEAN, Set as Commencement Speaker

In case you missed Pam's email, here's the announcement from Public Affairs. In case you're disappointed, Seniors, remember two things: we're still only a school of 1,100, and this is not the mayor of Dallas. Surin Pitsuwan '72, Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), will be the keynote speaker for Claremont McKenna College's 62nd Commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 16.

A veteran politician and academic, Pitsuwan studied for two years at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand, before winning a scholarship to CMC where he majored in political science and graduated cum laude in 1972. He then went on to Harvard University, earning his master's and doctorate degrees in 1974 and 1982, respectively, in political science and Middle Eastern studies. Returning to Bangkok, Pitsuwan spent nearly a decade teaching at the Faculty of Political Science at Thammasat University from 1978-1983 and 1984-1986, where he also served as an assistant to the deputy dean for academic affairs. From 1975-1992 he was a columnist for the Nation and the Bangkok Post, the two leading English daily newspapers in Bangkok.

While teaching in 1986, Pitsuwan ran for a Parliamentary seat in his hometown, Nakorn Sri Thammarat, and has been returned to Parliament, in the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand, eight times since. He was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand from 1997-2001, and served as chair of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum from 1999-2000. Pitsuwan is the second Thai national to achieve the position of Secretary-General of the ASEAN. Prior to assuming his newest role, Pitsuwan was also a deputy leader of the Democratic Party and served on the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), charged with bringing peace and security back to Thailand's southern region.

"It is an honor for CMC to have such a notable alumnus and global leader address the Class of 2009 as our distinguished commencement speaker," said President Pamela Gann. "His achievements in both the educational and political arenas will be extraordinarily relevant to our students as they go out to make their mark on the world."

Activities leading up to the Commencement ceremony include:

Friday, May 15

3:30 p.m., Baccalaureate Service for Claremont Colleges graduates and families, Garrison Theatre, Scripps College

4:30-6:30 p.m., Reception for CMC graduates and their families, hosted by President Pamela Gann and the Claremont McKenna College Alumni Association, Collins Dining Hall

Saturday, May 16

8 a.m., Commencement rehearsal and cap and gown distribution for all graduates, Pritzlaff Field

9 a.m., R.O.T.C. Commissioning Ceremony, Pickford Auditorium, Bauer Center

2 p.m., Sixty-second Annual Commencement ceremony, Pritzlaff Field

3:30 p.m., Reception for CMC graduates, family, and friends, Parents Field

For more information about Commencement, please contact the Dean of the Faculty's Office at 909-621-8117.

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