May 10, 2010
A top member of President Obama's White House staff will deliver the Commencement address at Knox College on Saturday, June 5, 2010. Tina Tchen, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, will deliver the address during Commencement exercises. Student Maurice McDavid will deliver the senior address to his fellow graduates.
Before being tapped to serve President Obama's administration, Tina Tchen was a prominent Chicago lawyer with the firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and a women's activist. She also has been appointed by President Obama to serve as executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. A long-time advocate for women's issues, Tchen has served as the state vice president of the National Organization for Women and worked successfully to help pass the Illinois Criminal Sexual Assault Act. As a lawyer, Tchen has experience litigating cases in both state and federal courts. During her legal career, she has represented such public agencies as the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the Illinois Department of Public Aid, and the Chicago Housing Authority. In 1992, she successfully represented the State of Illinois before the U.S. Supreme Court. Tchen earned a B.A. from Harvard University in 1978 and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law in 1984.
The White House Office of Public Engagement considers itself "the open front door to the White House." The office coordinates White House events, arranges public speaking engagements for the president, vice president and White House staff, and seeks public opinion on issues before the administration. It was previously known as the Office of Public Liaison.
As is tradition, Knox College will award Tchen an honorary degree. Recent Knox College commencement speakers have included comedian Stephen Colbert, Barack Obama, William Jefferson Clinton, and Madeleine Albright.
Knox senior Maurice McDavid, an elementary education and Spanish major from DeKalb, Illinois, will deliver the student address. McDavid is a four-year letter winner in football, plays defensive end, and was elected team co-captain. In 2009, he received the Midwest Conference Sportsmanship award, for encouraging his teammates on and off the field. In addition to his successful football career, McDavid is a youth minister at his church, where he frequently preaches; an Admission and Advancement Ambassador; and a member of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality (ABLE). He is a founding member of Gentlemen of Quality, Knox's newest fraternity, and now serves as its president.
Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with 1,407 students from 45 states and 48 nations. Knox boasts a strong student body of diverse backgrounds. Approximately two-thirds of Knox students receive need-based financial aid and one-quarter are the first generation in their families to attend college. More than two-thirds of Knox students graduated in the top quarter of their high school class.