U.S. Senator Gordon H. Smith '79 to Speak at Southwestern Commencement
Southwestern is pleased to announce that the Honorable Gordon H. Smith, United States Senator for the State of Oregon and a 1979 Southwestern graduate, will serve as speaker for Southwestern's 88th Commencement Exercises to be held on Sunday, May 18, 2003 at the Shrine Auditorium.
First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and re-elected by a wide margin in 2002, Senator Smith has earned a reputation as a statesman with an independent streak and an ability to work across party lines. In his first term, he was assigned to four major Senate committees: Energy and Natural Resources; Foreign Relations; Budget; and Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He also served on the Special Committee on Aging.
While serving on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Smith played an important role in overseeing the foreign and national security policies of the United States. Senator Smith has been an active supporter of NATO expansion and has worked to promote religious tolerance in Russia and Western Europe. He also supported legislation that extended sanctions against companies that do business with terrorist states, such as Iran and Libya. Senator Smith was assigned to the Central Asia and South Caucasus Subcommittee created after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to focus on countries immediately adjacent to Afghanistan.
Following the November 2002 election and the realignment of Senate committees, Senator Smith was appointed to the Committee on Finance and reappointed to the Energy and Natural Resources and Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committees. He is also a member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Committee on Indian Affairs, the Committee on Rules and Administration, the Senate Western Water and Rural Health Caucuses, the High Tech Task Force, and the Senate Task Force on Medicare and Prescription Drugs, which he co-chairs. He has served as Deputy Whip three times, a position he presently holds.
Over the past six years, Senator Smith, has focused on issues crucial to the health and prosperity of his state, consistently supporting programs that increase funds for students. He created a pilot dropout prevention program and worked to improve access to healthcare. He has also been actively engaged in protecting Oregon's natural resources and the working families who depend on them for their livelihoods. Together with Oregon's Senator Ron Wyden, he is a consistent voice for the rights of low-income Americans being denied access to civil justice. The two regularly contact Senate appropriations leaders in an effort to obtain more resources for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the agency chartered by Congress in 1974 to fund local legal aid offices serving every county in the U.S.
Senator Smith launched his political career in 1992, when he was elected to the Oregon State Senate. During the next four years, he was elected Minority Leader and then President of the State Senate.
A native of Pendleton, Oregon, Senator Smith was born into a politically active family that includes former Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall and his brother, former Congressman Morris Udall. His father, the owner of a frozen processing plant, was appointed Assistant Secretary of Agriculture during the Eisenhower Administration, and the family moved to Washington, D.C. where Senator Smith honed his interest in politics.
Senator Smith earned his Bachelor's Degree from Brigham Young University in 1976 and his law degree from Southwestern in 1979. He entered private practice in Arizona, but returned to Oregon in 1980 to assume management of the family's frozen food business, a position he held until his election to the U.S. Senate.