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Harkin duo to give '98 baccalaureate

Ruth Harkin will join her husband Senator Tom Harkin in this year's baccalaureate address, the University announced Friday.

It will be the first time that two speakers will give the University's baccalaureate speech.


When Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, learned that this year marked the 25th anniversary of Princeton's first coeducational graduating class, he extended the podium to include his wife.

They will give a joint baccalaureate address Sunday, May 31 in celebration of the anniversary of full coeducation.

Harkin "thought it would be nice for his wife to join him in the address," said Mary Caffrey, media relations officer in the University's communications office.

The senator suggested the idea to President Shapiro who highly approved and welcomed the prospect of an additional speaker, Caffrey said.

Once called the sermon, the baccalaureate address is one of the University's oldest traditions. Held in the University chapel, it is part of an interfaith worship service, according to a press release.

Though tradition typically dictates, the actual format of the speech remains uncertain, Caffrey said.


"We're leaving that up to the Harkins," she said. She anticipated, though, the speech will run about as long as the commencement address.

The Harkin husband and wife team have given a joint address before. "A few years ago they spoke at Catholic University," said Associate Secretary Ann Halliday. Both Harkins attended Catholic University for law school.

Lawyer, executive

As a baccalaureate speaker, Ruth Harkin's accomplishments are of similar caliber to her husband's.

She has practiced law in the private sector and worked as deputy general counsel at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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She is currently senior vice president for International Affairs and Government Relations at United Technologies Corporation. She is the company's highest ranking female executive, according to a University press release.

Ruth Harkin also serves as the Chair of United Technologies International, UTC's international representation arm.

UTC has more than 1,900 offices in more than 150 locations around the world. The corporation's products include Pratt and Whitney aircraft engines, Carrier heating and air conditioning systems and Otis elevators.

In 1993, before accepting her position at UTC, she was appointed by President Clinton as president and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

During her four years as CEO there, she helped refocus the agency's energy to better serve U.S. foreign policy and economic goals, as well as the American business community.

Under her leadership, OPIC supported a total of 450 projects and earned a record four-year profit of $725 million.

Tom Harkin has served three terms in the U.S. Senate and is a member of the Appropriations Committee and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.