Martha J. Kanter Named 2012 Commencement Speaker

March 08, 2012







Martha J. Kanter

Rollins welcomes Under Secretary of Education Martha J. Kanter as the keynote speaker at the 2012 commencement ceremonies for both the Hamilton Holt School and the Colleges of Arts & Sciences and Professional Studies.

In 2009, Kanter was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the under secretary of education and was confirmed by the Senate. Reporting to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Kanter oversees policies, programs, and activities related to postsecondary education, adult and career-technical education, federal student aid, and five White House Initiatives on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, educational excellence for Hispanics, historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and faith-based and neighborhood partnerships.

To spur education, economic growth, and social prosperity, Kanter is charged with planning and policy responsibilities to implement President Obama’s goal for the U.S. to have “the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world by 2020” as measured by the proportion of college graduates over the next decade. Kanter and her team are keenly focused on improving college access, affordability, quality, and completion to implement President Obama's American Graduation Initiative.

In her first two years as under secretary, Kanter led the successful implementation of the Direct Student Loan program, resulting in a 50-percent increase in college enrollment, growing from 6 to 9 million students today who are Pell Grant recipients. Kanter and her team are working closely with postsecondary partners from across the nation to boost American innovation and competitiveness with an ambitious college completion agenda, teacher quality reforms, adult education program improvements, modernization of career-technical education, and a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor that has announced the first $500 million of a $2 billion federal investment to increase quality, graduation, and employment opportunities for community college students.

From 2003 to 2009, Kanter served as chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation, serving more than 45,000 students with a total budget of approximately $400 million. She is the first community college leader to serve in the under secretary position. In 1977, after serving as an alternative high school teacher in Massachusetts and New York, she established the first program for students with learning disabilities at San Jose City College (Calif.). She then served as a director, dean, and subsequently vice chancellor for policy and research for the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office in Sacramento. In 1990, she returned to San Jose City College as vice president of instruction and student services until she was named president of De Anza College in 1993, serving in this position for a decade until her appointment as chancellor.

Kanter has been recognized for her work numerous times, including being named Woman of the Year by the 24th Assembly District, Woman of Achievement by San Jose Mercury News and the Women's Fund, and Woman of the Year for Santa Clara County by the American Association of University Women. In 2011, Kanter was appointed to the U.S. National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a federal advisory committee to the Department of State that supports worldwide humanitarian development and values by coordinating efforts and delivering expert advice on issues of education, science, communications and culture.

Under Secretary Kanter holds a doctorate in organization and leadership from the University of San Francisco. Her dissertation addressed demographic, institutional, and assessment factors affecting access to higher education for underrepresented students in California's community colleges. She received her master's degree in education with a concentration in clinical psychology and public practice from Harvard University and a bachelor's degree in sociology from Brandeis University. Kanter holds honorary degrees from Palo Alto University, Chatham University, Lakes Region Community College, Moraine Valley Community College, and the Alamo Colleges.

The ceremony for the College of Arts & Sciences and College of Professional Studies will take place on Sunday, May 13 at 10 a.m. The ceremony for the Hamilton Holt School will take place on Saturday, May 12 at 10 a.m. Both will be held in the Warden Arena at the Alfond Sports Center.

Learn more about commencement.


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