Newswise — Leon E. Panetta, Chief of Staff for former U.S. President William J. Clinton and founder/director of the Panetta Institute, will address approximately 2,200 undergraduate students as the keynote speaker at Northeastern University's morning commencement exercises on April 30, 2005 at 10 a.m. at the FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts. He will also receive an honorary doctorate of public service.

Additional honorary degree recipients at the morning ceremony will include: Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Syracuse University, who will receive a doctorate of education; Myrlie Evers-Williams, former chair, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who will receive a doctorate of public service; and Michael C. Ruettgers, chairman of the board, EMC Corporation, who will receive a doctorate of business administration.

Panetta first went to Washington in 1966, where he served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Thomas H. Kuchel of California. In 1969, he became Special Assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and then Director of the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, where he was responsible for enforcement of equal education laws. Panetta was a U.S. Representative from California's 16th (now 17th) district from 1977 to 1993 and was appointed Chief of Staff to President Clinton in 1994, a post he held until 1997.

Panetta and his wife Sylvia currently co-chair the Panetta Institute for Public Policy based at California State University, Monterey Bay. The Institute, focused on helping small communities and the country as a whole meet the challenges of the 21st century, serves as a non-partisan study center for the advancement of public policy.

Following the morning ceremony, an afternoon commencement ceremony for approximately 900 graduate students and adult learners will take place at 3:15 p.m. in Matthews Arena. The speaker will be Eric Lander, founding director of The Broad Institute, a research collaboration of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and affiliated hospitals, and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Lander will also receive an honorary doctorate of science.

Honorary degree recipients at the afternoon ceremony include: The Honorable Olympia Snowe, U.S. Senator from the state of Maine, and Clarence Jones, chairman of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, who will receive honorary doctorates of public service; as well as Gloria Larson, co-chair of the Massachusetts Convention Authority, who will receive a doctorate of laws.

About Northeastern:Northeastern University, located in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, is a world leader in practice-oriented education and recognized for its expert faculty and first-rate academic and research facilities. Northeastern integrates challenging liberal arts and professional studies with the nation's largest cooperative education program. Through co-op, Northeastern undergraduates alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, giving them nearly two years of professional experience upon graduation. The majority of Northeastern graduates receive a job offer from a co-op employer. Cited for excellence three years running by U.S. News & World Report, Northeastern has quickly moved up into the top tier rankings—an impressive 30 spots in three years. In addition, Northeastern was named a top college in the northeast by the Princeton Review 2003/04. For more information, please visit