168th Commencement: Watch Live
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack ’75 appears to be in the mix as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton mulls her choice of running mate, according to multiple media reports.
In recent days, Vilsack has been described as
“the best-kept secret in American politics” (NBC News, July 16) and a budding
“real contender” for the vice presidency (The Washington Post, July 14). Clinton is expected to make her pick before the Democratic National Convention begins July 25 in Philadelphia, Pa.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Vilsack earned his bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College in 1972 and his J.D. from Albany Law School in 1975. Shortly thereafter he moved to practice law in his wife Christie’s hometown of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, where he was elected mayor in 1987.
Vilsack’s star rose quickly. He was elected to the Iowa State Senate in 1992 and six years later was elected governor of Iowa. Vilsack, the state’s first Democratic governor in 30 years, was reelected in 2002.
After a brief run at the presidency, Vilsack was appointed the 30th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by President Barack Obama and sworn into office on January 21, 2009.
Vilsack has remained appreciative of — and committed to — his legal training.
“I still get my CLE credits every year; I will keep my license until the day I die,”
Vilsack told Albany Law Magazine in 2010. “This is an incredible life and country for someone like me to have this position and it all started because of an Albany Law School education. It gave me the tools to be a skilled lawyer. That is the gift the school gave to me. And those tools led me on this path.”
Vilsack visited campus in October 2007 to meet with students and receive Albany Law’s Distinguished Alumni Award. In May 2014 he delivered the keynote at the law school’s 163rd commencement.
“I can’t help but end this speech by telling you how valuable Albany Law School is to me,”
he said. “Albany Law School equipped me to be a good lawyer. … This school gives people opportunity.”
Earlier this year, Vilsack spoke with a delegation of Albany Law School alumni who were in Washington, D.C., for group admission to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court.
More: Albany Law School Ranked No. 1 Nationwide for Government Law Careers
Albany Law School has a tradition of preparing its students and alumni for careers in government.
Graduates include U.S. President William McKinley, current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, two U.S. Supreme Court justices, more than 300 sitting judges today, the current mayors of Albany and Rochester, and thousands of other public service leaders.