Bruce Harrell is commencement speaker

Bruce HarrellBruce Harrell, a University of Washington Political Science and Law School graduate, a former Husky football player and the Seattle City Council president, has been selected to be the 2019 University of Washington Bothell commencement speaker. 

Harrell will address graduates and their families June 16 at T-Mobile Park (renamed from Safeco Field) in Seattle. More than 2,200 graduates will be receiving diplomas before about 15,000 people in the stands at UW Bothell’s 28th annual commencement ceremony

Harrell, who received his Political Science degree in 1981 and Law degree in 1984, said college graduates today face a more competitive global economy — but he also believes “there’s an abundance of opportunity” for students who recognize they need specialized skills. 

And UW graduates are well-prepared for those challenges, Harrell said. 

“Experience matters and other life experiences matter in job qualifications, but the degree from the University of Washington speaks volumes.” 

First gen, All-American 

Like almost half of all UW Bothell’s graduating students, Harrell was the first in his family to graduate from college. He also played for the 1978 Rose Bowl champion and 1979 Sun Bowl champion football teams and was a first team Academic All-American. After law school, Harrell worked for technology and telecommunication companies and served at nonprofits in community development and affordable housing. He has served on the UW Alumni Board of Trustees and received the 2007 UW Distinguished Alumni Award in Political Science and the 2008 Husky Legend award. 

A member of the Seattle City Council since 2008, Harrell has served as council president since 2016. He has led initiatives to require police officers to wear body cameras and to stop employers from automatically excluding job applicants with criminal records. Harrell also has pushed for high-speed internet access for low income students and for converting street lights to LEDs.  

Harrell briefly served as Seattle mayor in 2017, following the departure of Mayor Ed Murray. Harrell recently announced that he would not seek re-election when his term ends this year, but he will continue to add to his more than three decades of service.  

“I will remain an engaged community leader and look forward to continuing my work to create a more vibrant, healthy and just society,” Harrell said. 

Lifelong lessons 

“His own education in political science helped prepared him for city government, Harrell said. 

“As I see different forms of political philosophies emerge, whether it’s a socialist philosophy, an independent party philosophy, the traditional Democrat or Republican philosophy, the ancient theories of philosophical rhetoric still kick in and apply,” he said.  

In his speech to the UW Bothell graduates, Harrell said he’ll share stories and things he has learned that might help students as they leave the university.  

“I recognize that the audience — the students — have such a wide range of diversity,” he said. “Some might pursue sciences, some art and music. But I do believe that some sort of journey toward human growth is common.”


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