Economist and lawyer Joaquín Almunia of Spain advised students to “live a principled life, and fight for what you believe is right” as he delivered the College of Arts and Sciences graduate student commencement speech on Saturday May 21, 2011, at the Westin Copley Hotel.

Almunia, who is responsible for Competition Policy as a vice president of the European Commission, the EU Executive branch, told graduates that John F. Kennedy’s famous proposition that citizens should “ask what you can do for your country” guided him in his youth, even as Spain suffered under the knuckle of Franco.

“At the end of each day, I tend to ask myself, well, what have you done for you, for your family? What have you done for the community? You have no idea the sense of contentment that comes over you when you can give an answer, a satisfactory answer to these two questions.”

He told the students that, as he pursues his civic responsibilities, he is guided by essential values and principles: “integrity and responsibility towards others, democracy and the rule of law, free market economy, and solidarity and social justice.”

Suffolk University honored Almunia with the honorary Doctor of Economics.

About Joaquín Almunia

In his policy-making role, Almunia works to strengthen the European social market economy to create a region where peace and stability reign in an environment of freedom and democracy. He previously was responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs.

His long political career began in 1979, when he was elected to the Spanish Parliament. In 1982, he was the youngest minister of Felipe Gonzalez’s government, serving as minister for Labor and Social Security. He later became minister of Public Administration and spokesperson for the Socialist Parliamentary Group. Almunia became leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, PSOE, in 1997 and ran unsuccessfully for prime minister in 2000.

Earlier in his career, Almunia was chief economist of the Union General de Trabajadores, the Spanish trade union affiliated with PSOE.

He is the founder and director of the progressive think tank Laboratorio de Alternativas and was a director of the research program on "Equality and redistribution of income" at the Fundación Argentaria. Almunia was an associate lecturer at the University of Alcalá de Henares in Madrid, where he taught Employment and Social Security Law.

Almunia is a graduate of the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain, where he studied Law and Economics. He continued his education at L’École Pratique des Hautes Études de Paris and in the Senior Managers in Government program at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Honorary Degrees

In addition to honoring Almunia, the College of Arts and Sciences and Sawyer Business School awarded the following honorary degrees:

• Jeff Glor, news anchor for "The Early Show" on CBS, undergraduate commencement speaker, honorary Doctor of Journalism
• Peter H. Smyth, chairman and chief executive officer of Greater Media, Inc., Sawyer Business School graduate commencement speaker, honorary Doctor of Commerce
• Joseph Corcoran, chairman, Corcoran Jennison Companies, honorary Doctor of Business Administration
• Jeanette G. Clough, president and CEO, Mount Auburn Hospital, honorary Doctor of Business Administration
• Marshall M. Sloane, chairman of the board, Century Bank, honorary Doctor of Business Administration

The Law School awarded the following honorary degrees:

• William Bratton, a security expert who has led the nation’s largest police departments, who spoke at Commencement with his wife, Rikki Klieman, honorary Doctor of Laws
• Rikki Klieman, television personality and trial attorney, commencement speaker, honorary Doctor of Laws
• David Z. Chesnoff, Esquire, Goodman and Chesnoff, honorary Doctor of Laws
• The Honorable John E. Fenton, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Law and former dean of Suffolk Law School, retired Chief Administrative Justice of the Massachusetts Trial Court, honorary Doctor of Laws
• The Honorable Therese Murray, president of the Senate of the Commonwealth, honorary Doctor of Laws


• College of Arts and Sciences bachelor’s degree candidates: 782
• College master’s degree and doctoral candidates: 276
• Sawyer Business School bachelor’s degree candidates: 521
• Business School master’s degree candidates: 410
• Law School: 450 juris doctor, 15 master of laws degrees