Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack will be the 2006 commencement speaker at Grinnell College in May 2006.
Iowa's 39th governor, Vilsack was elected governor in 1998 and was the first Democrat elected to that office in more than 30 years. He was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2002.
The chair of the Democratic Leadership Council, Vilsack is the former chair of the Democratic Governors Association, the Midwestern Governors Conference, the Governors Biotechnology Partnership, Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG), and the Ethanol Coalition.
The governor is also a member of the National Governors Association Executive Committee.
Prior to being elected governor, Vilsack was an Iowa State Senator from 1992 to 1996, and the mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, from 1987 to 1992, as well as managing a private law practice. He received a bachelor's degree from Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., in 1972, and received a law degree from Albany Law School, Albany, N.Y, in 1975.
Patricia T. O'Conner '71 is the author of Woe is I: The Grammarphob'es Guide to Better English in Plain English, among other publications. Pat, a native of Des Moines, graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa in 1971. She did graduate work in urban journalism at the University of Minnesota before beginning her career as a reporter and editor in 1973. After several years at the Des Moines Register and the Wall Street Journal, she joined the New York Times in 1982.
Most of her 15 years with the Times were spent at the Book Review, where she edited reviews and literary criticism. She also contributed articles and book reviews, and for many years wrote the Times's weekly columns on new video releases and paperback books. In addition to writing full time, she continues to write reviews and articles for the Times, and also appears monthly on public radio as WNYC's "language maven."
During almost 30 years, Christopher Vaughan '71 has worked as an administrator, consultant, professor, thesis advisor, and field researcher in environmental studies, behavior and ecology in Costa Rica. He was cofounder and director of Latin America's first Wildlife Management graduate program; director and organizer of the inaugural year of the Costa Rican Center for Sustainable Development and science coordinator of the Costa Rica Field Studies program for the Associated Colleges of the Midwest as well as coordinator of a neotropical tropical wildlife project and coordinator of the Biodiversity section of the Costa Rican government First National Strategy for Sustainable Development. Presently he is coordinator of the Chocolate Biodiversity and Productivity Project (Milwaukee Public Museum-University of Wisconsin-USDA) and co-editor of the international scientific journal, Vida Silvestre Neotropical.
As a university professor, he taught courses in the natural resources field and co-directed undergraduate and graduate courses in tropical field/wildlife ecology and wildlands management. He has authored or coauthored almost 100 scientific papers, seven books and has presented over 50 papers in international symposia and congresses. Dr. Vaughan is presently Adjunct Professor in the Department of Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
James A. Banks is Russell F. Stark University Professor and Director of the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is a past President of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). Professor Banks is a member of the Board of Children, Youth, and Families of the National Research Council of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. He is also a member of the National Academy of Education.
Professor Banks has written or edited 15 books in multicultural education and in social studies education. Professor Banks has written over 100 articles, contributions to books, and book reviews for professional publications.