Ralph Munro to Receive Honorary Doctorate at WWU Commencement March 19

Ralph Munro, former Washington Secretary of State, will receive an honorary doctorate degree at one of three commencement ceremonies at Western Washington University’s Performing Arts Center Mainstage March 19.

Munro will also be the speaker at the 3 p.m. ceremony, when he will be presented with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Munro, of Olympia, is a 1966 graduate of Western and a former member of Western’s Board of Trustees. He began his career in state government soon after completing his degree in Political Science and Education. Long after his official retirement from three decades in public office, including 20 years as Washington Secretary of State, Munro remains one of the state’s most respected political figures, known not only for his statesmanship but for his commitment to public service.

As an aide to Gov. Dan Evans in the mid-’70s, Munro helped coordinate the resettlement of thousands of Vietnamese refugees in the state of Washington. A few years later Munro led the charge to ban the capture of orcas in Puget Sound after watching in horror as hunters used explosives to corral whales for display in Southern California. Throughout his career, he has also been a leader in organizations that help people with developmental disabilities. He traveled to Africa with Rotary International to help vaccinate children against polio, and continues to volunteer serving meals to homeless people at Olympia’s Salvation Army.

As Secretary of State from 1980 to 2000, Munro was instrumental in streamlining voter registration procedures and modernizing the state’s election system. He also served as the state of Washington’s unofficial ambassador to the world, visiting many countries on trade and cultural missions. Following his retirement from government in 2001, his friends and supporters matched a $250,000 grant from the Higher Education Coordinating Board to fund the Ralph Munro Institute for Civic Education at Western.

Munro is the eighth person to receive an honorary doctorate from Western. Past recipients include author Timothy Egan, artist Do Ho Suh, opera star Heidi Grant Murphy and former Washington governor and U.S. ambassador Gary Locke.

Tickets are required to attend the ceremony, which will also be broadcast on Whatcom County Comcast Cable Channel 26 and streamed live at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/wwu-live-events1.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 10:35am