BETHANY, W.Va. — Richard L. “Dick” Thornburgh, former Attorney General of the United States and Governor of Pennsylvania, will deliver the Fall Convocation address to students, faculty, staff and friends of Bethany College on Thursday, Sept. 11. The Fall Convocation will begin at 11 a.m. in historic Commencement Hall at Old Main. Thornburgh will also be conferred with an honorary Doctorate of Laws by Dr. Scott D. Miller, President of the College.
“Once again, the Bethany community will have the opportunity to benefit from the shared wisdom of a national scholar,” Dr. Miller said. “Mr. Thornburgh’s extensive educational and professional background, along with the activist role he has played in promoting education, welfare and economic development, make him an ideal speaker as we begin our 167th academic year.”
The Fall Convocation is an annual tradition at Bethany, welcoming students back to campus and bringing the entire College community together to celebrate the start of a new academic year. In addition to Mr. Thornburgh’s address, the College will also recognize high academic achievers from the spring semester and announce the recipients of the Anna Ruth Bourne and W.H. Woolery Scholarship Cups.
A Pittsburgh native, Thornburgh holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Yale University and earned his law degree at the University of Pittsburgh. His service in the United States Department of Justice began in 1969 when he was appointed United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania by President Richard Nixon. He was named Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division by President Gerald Ford in 1975.
Thornburgh was elected Pennsylvania’s 41st governor in 1978 and served two consecutive terms. Following his tenure as governor, he was named Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan appointed Thornburgh as the 76th attorney general of the United States. He was retained in that position when President George H.W. Bush was sworn into office in 1989. After leaving the Department of Justice, Thornburgh served as undersecretary general to the United Nations before returning to private law practice. He is presently counsel of the national law firm K&L Gates, LLP and works out of its Washington, D.C. office.
As governor of Pennsylvania, Thornburgh enacted major reforms in the areas of education, welfare and economic development. Thornburgh helped transform Pennsylvania’s employment picture, turning a state with one of the nation’s 10 highest unemployment rates when he took office into a state with one of the 10 lowest rates in the country by the end of his second term. Thornburgh also put Pennsylvania’s financial house in order. Although he inherited a great deal of existing debt, Thornburgh was able to lower business and personal taxes and still turned those budget deficits into a $350 million surplus by the conclusion of his tenure.
Regarded as a staunch activist against white-collar crime, his work as attorney general was highlighted by the Department of Justice’s conviction of an unprecedented number of corrupt public officials. Thornburgh has also worked with law enforcement officials around the world to fight money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorism. He was named an honorary Special Agent by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), an honor he shares with only 19 other persons in history, seven of whom were United States presidents. Thornburgh also led the fight against racial, religious and ethnic hate crimes and took action in the enforcement of environmental laws.
He and his wife, Ginny, are parents of a son who suffered brain damage in an automobile accident and have been strong advocates for helping those with disabilities. Thornburgh worked to enact the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law while he was attorney general. Both remain dedicated to the cause, speaking at conferences around the world and receiving numerous awards for their efforts.
Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the oldest college in West Virginia