Former U.S. Speaker to give Trine commencement address

One of the longest serving Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives, J. Dennis Hastert, will be the featured speaker at Trine University’s commencement Saturday, May 5, at 10 a.m. in Hershey Hall on the main campus in Angola.

He also will receive an honorary degree of public service from the university.

Hastert served as Speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007. During his tenure, Hastert focused his efforts on lowering taxes, improving education, strengthening Social Security and Medicare and bolstering national defense. In response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks he was instrumental in passing historic legislation to create a Department of Homeland Security, the most significant restructuring of the federal government in the last 50 years.

Hastert also served as Chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs and Criminal Justice. He also helped author the health care reform bill, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996 to expand coverage to the uninsured.

In the 1980s, prior to Congress, Hastert served three terms in the Illinois General Assembly, where he spearheaded legislation on child abuse prevention, property tax reform, educational excellence and economic development. While there, he also led an effort that resulted in the adoption of a new public utilities act, reforming the law to benefit Illinoisans.

Hastert spent the first 16 years of his career as a government and history teacher at Yorkville High School, and it also was there that he met his wife, Jean, a fellow teacher. In addition to teaching, he coached football and wrestling and led the Yorkville High School Foxes to victory at the 1976 Illinois State Wrestling Championship. Later that year, he was named Illinois Coach of the Year. Hastert, a former high school and college wrestler himself, was inducted as an Outstanding American into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla., in 2000. In 2001, the United States Olympic Committee named him Honorary Vice President of the American Olympic movement.

An Aurora, Ill., native, he earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Wheaton College in 1964 and his master’s in philosophy of education from Northern Illinois University in 1967. He and his wife now live in Plano, Ill.

“We are pleased to welcome Speaker Hastert to Trine’s commencement exercises,” said Trine president Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D. “Our graduates are known for their dynamic engagement in their communities and workplaces, and his message is sure to drive home the importance of continuing education, civic involvement and professional leadership.”