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Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano stresses importance of ethics to Santa Clara undergraduates

Saturday, Jun. 14, 2003

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – June 14, 2003 – Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. a Santa Clara University alumna, urged Santa Clara University graduates today to hold themselves to strict standards of honesty as they step out into the world.

“The most important value of a Santa Clara education is the realization that education and intellect is incomplete without character,” she said.

Napolitano, who was Santa Clara’s first female valedictorian when she graduated summa cum laude in 1979, asked the class of 2003 to make decisions that went beyond self interest and participate in the affairs of the community. “The sense of ethics you take from here is even more significant than the academics you’ve absorbed,” she said

In a speech peppered with humor, Napolitano reminisced about her life as a student: road trips, strawberry daiquiris, and living abroad. But she urged the graduating class to use their college experience to not just find a better job, or higher salary, but to create a more just society.

More than 12,000 family and friends of Santa Clara University cheered approximately 1,360 undergraduate degree recipients as they walked across an outdoor stage at Buck Shaw Stadium today, celebrating the 152nd commencement.

Napolitano received an honorary degree from SCU President Paul Locatelli, S.J.

"We are very pleased to have Gov. Janet Napolitano be part of our commencement ceremony," said Locatelli.  "We hope that Gov. Napolitano, as an alumna of Santa Clara, will be an inspiration to students, faculty, and alumni who are committed to lives of professional excellence, responsible citizenship, and public service."

Napolitano served five years as U.S. attorney in Arizona. Her legal career was marked by the prosecution of several high-profile criminals. She created the first Office for Women to make issues affecting women a top priority, implemented Arizona’s first statewide Domestic Abuse Public Awareness Campaign, and oversaw the investigation into Timothy McVeigh’s activities in Arizona prior to the Oklahoma bombing.

Elected Arizona’s first female attorney general in 1998, Napolitano oversaw an office with 900 state prosecutors and support staff. She targeted and reduced child dependency cases. In addition, Napolitano prosecuted drug traffickers who manufactured drugs in homes where children were present and implemented the Attorney General’s School Hotline.  

Since taking office as governor in January 2003, Napolitano has been credited with helping create a prescription drug program for low-income seniors, aiding Arizona’s water conservation efforts and leading discussions about children’s issues, family support services and dropout prevention.

The 2003 SCU valedictorian, Thomas Garvey, selected for “outstanding academic achievement and University service” urged his fellow students to not forget the values of competence, conscience, and compassion that they learned at Santa Clara University. ”If we work together in solidarity, we can bring about a better world,” Garvey said.

Napolitano was the second SCU commencement speaker. In May, Mary Alexander, an alumna of the Santa Clara University School of Law and president of the Trial Lawyers Association of America, spoke to SCU law school graduates.

Graduate degrees in business, engineering, counseling psychology, education and pastoral ministries will be awarded in ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 15. The speaker on Sunday will be noted public broadcasting executive, former CEO of KQED and SCU alumna Mary Foley Bitterman.

Santa Clara University’s first commencement occurred in 1851, the same year it was founded as California’s first institution of higher education.

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its 8,060 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees. Distinguished nationally by the third-highest graduation rate among all U.S. masters’ universities, California’s oldest higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. More information is online at






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