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March 24, 2005

LEWISBURG, Pa. - Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge will speak at Bucknell University's 155th commencement ceremony Sunday, May 22.

"I am delighted that former Secretary Ridge accepted our invitation," said Bucknell President Brian Mitchell. "He will bring an insightful perspective to Bucknell at a pivotal point in our history."

During commencement, Ridge will receive the Bucknell Award of Merit in recognition of his "exceptional contributions to his profession and community," said Mitchell. "Tom Ridge exemplifies Bucknell's standards and aspirations and it is fitting that he receives this award."

Senior Class President David Caribardi of St. Mary's, Pa., said, "We are extremely pleased to have a speaker of this national caliber."

On Oct. 8, 2001, Tom Ridge was sworn in as the first Department of Homeland Security Advisor in the history of the U.S. The president established the Department of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council, following the tragic events of Sept. 11.

Ridge was twice elected governor of Pennsylvania, serving from 1995 to 2001.

Born Aug. 26, 1945, in Pittsburgh's Steel Valley, Gov. Ridge was raised in a working class family in veterans' public housing in Erie.

He earned a scholarship to Harvard, graduating with honors in 1967. After his first year at Dickinson School of Law, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served as an infantry staff sergeant in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star for Valor.

After returning to Pennsylvania, he earned his law degree and was in private practice before becoming assistant district attorney in Erie County. He was elected to Congress in 1982. He was the first enlisted Vietnam combat veteran elected to the U.S. House, and was overwhelmingly re-elected six times.

Gov. Ridge and his wife, Michele, the former executive director of the Erie County Library system, have two children, Lesley and Tommy. Now in the private sector, he serves on the board of Home Depot.


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