Abercrombie to address UH Hilo Fall Commencement

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Date: Friday, December 5, 2008
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

Hawaiʻi Congressman Neil Abercrombie delivers the keynote address at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo fall commencement, scheduled for Saturday, December 20 at 9 a.m. at the UH Hilo New Gym.

A total of 184 students representing the College of Arts and Sciences (146), College of Business and Economics (21), College of Agriculture, Forestry& Natural Resource Management (14), and Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikolani College of Hawaiian Language (3) are candidates for various degrees or certificates.

The graduating class also features 15 graduate level students, including Katarina Edmonds, a Maori educator from New Zealand, who will become the first student to earn the Ph.D in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization. Fourteen others will receive master’s degrees.

Abercrombie was originally elected to serve out an unexpired term in the U.S. House of Representatives in a 1986 special election. He returned to Congress by winning election to a full term in 1990 and has been re-elected in every election since then. He ranks 41 among 236 House Democrats in seniority. Prior to his service in Congress, Abercrombie served in the state House (1975-1979), state Senate (1980-1986) and on the Honolulu City Council (1988-1990).

He currently serves as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, which oversees the Air Force and Army. He is also a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has wide-ranging responsibilities over native people's issues and our national parks, forests, wilderness areas, oceans, and the energy and mineral resources they contain.

Abercrombie has used his seniority in Congress to establish relationships on both sides of the aisle and secure congressional authorization for more than $3 billion in Hawaiʻi military construction projects, millions more for transportation infrastructure, and support for Hawaiʻi’s visitor industry. Through his chairmanship of the Air and Land Subcommittee and his membership on the powerful House Armed Services Committee, Abercrombie has secured more federal funding for a variety of military research and testing contracts in Hawaiʻi that has helped to grow the local high technology and alternative energy industries and overall State economy.

Born in Buffalo, New York, Abercrombie earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Union College in Schenectady in 1959. He moved to Hawaiʻi in 1959 and enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa where he earned a master’s degree in sociology and doctorate in American Studies.

Abercrombie was an early and key supporter of President-elect Barack Obama. His ties to Obama date back to his college days when he attended classes with and befriended Obama’s parents, Ann Dunham and Barack Obama, Sr. He is the only member of Congress to have met Obama when he was a child.

Tara Anderson, an English major on the writing track, pursuing a minor in marine science and a Marine Option Program certificate, is the student speaker. Born and raised in the small Alaska fishing town of Cordova, Anderson is a three-time member of the Dean’s list, is a prolific writer, and is a member of UH Hilo’s newly formed Freedom Equality Movement club.

Her commencement speech will focus on the capability and necessity for Hawaiʻi to become sustainable and the responsibility of the graduating class to contribute to that effort.

For more information on Commencement, contact Judith Fox-Goldstein at(808) 974-7555 or email commence@hawaii.edu. For special accommodations, contact Susan Shirachi at (808) 933-0816 (V) or (808) 933-3334 (TTY). Requests should be made at least 10 business days prior to the event.

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