Thomas Perez to Deliver Commencement Address
Contact: Dana Navarro
Civil Rights Advocate Thomas Perez to Present
Commencement Address and Receive Honorary Degree from
Thomas Perez is Assistant Attorney General for the
Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice
** To ensure proper accommodations, media who plan to attend should
RSVP in advance.
Illinois University (NEIU) will award an honorary doctor of laws degree to
Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the
Department of Justice, at the University’s commencement exercises at 10 a.m. on
Saturday, May 8 on the University Commons. Northeastern Illinois University is
located at 5500 N. St. Louis Ave. in Chicago (use campus entrance located at
3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.).
NEIU was selected to host Mr. Perez through the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.
Hahs, president of Northeastern Illinois University, said, “It will be an honor
and a privilege to have Mr. Perez address our graduates and their families. The
work he has done in Washington and throughout his career is an inspiration to
the entire University community, and we welcome him to our campus.
Thomas E. Perez was nominated by President Obama to serve as the Assistant Attorney
General for the Civil Rights Division and was sworn in on October 8, 2009.
Perez previously served as the Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor,
Licensing and Regulation (DLLR), which protects consumers through the
enforcement of a wide range of consumer rights laws, including the mortgage
setting; enforces workplace safety laws that provide critical safeguards to
workers and communities; enforces wage and hour, and other worker protection
laws that ensure wage security; and collaborates with businesses and workers to
address critical workforce development needs and build a world-class workforce.
He was a principal architect of a sweeping package of state lending and
foreclosure reforms to address the foreclosure crisis in Maryland.
Perez has spent his entire career in public service. From 2002 until 2006, he was a
member of the Montgomery County Council, Montgomery County, Maryland. He was
the first Latino ever elected to the Council and served as Council President in
2005. Earlier in his career he spent 12 years in federal public service, most
of them as a career attorney with the Civil Rights Division. As a federal
prosecutor for the Division, he prosecuted and/or supervised the prosecution of
some of the Department’s most high profile civil rights cases, including a hate
crimes case in Texas involving a group of white supremacists who went on a
deadly, racially motivated crime spree. Perez later served as Deputy Assistant
Attorney General for Civil Rights under Attorney General Janet Reno. Among
other responsibilities, he chaired the interagency Worker Exploitation Task
Force, which oversaw a variety of initiatives designed to protect vulnerable
workers. He also served as Special Counsel to the late Senator Edward Kennedy
and was Senator Kennedy’s principal adviser on civil rights, criminal justice
and constitutional issues. For the final two years of the Clinton
administration, Perez served as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at
the United States Department of Health and Human Services. He also was a law
professor for six years at the University of Maryland School of Law and was a
part-time professor at the George Washington School of Public Health.
He earned an A.B. from Brown University in 1983, an M.P.P. from the John F.
Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1987 and a J.D. from
Harvard Law School in 1987.
Northeastern Illinois University
Illinois University is a fully accredited public university serving more than
11,000 students in the State of Illinois. NEIU is the only four-year, public
university in the Midwest federally designated as a Hispanic Serving
Institution and has been ranked the most ethnically diverse university in the Midwest
by U.S. News and World Report.