In-Person Graduation Returns to SMC, Featuring Speech by US Ambassador to the United Nations


Ambassador Christopher P. Lu to Speak at Santa Monica College Commencement Ceremony June 13

The following is a press release provided by Santa Monica Community College.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for Management and Reform Christopher P. Lu will be the speaker at the Santa Monica College (SMC) 2023 Commencement Ceremony. This year’s ceremony will be the first in-person graduation to be held live since 2019.

SMC’s 93rd Commencement Ceremony will start promptly at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13, at Corsair Field, locatedon the main SMC campus (1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica). The ceremony will also be webcast live and available on the SMC Graduation webpage (

Families and friends from all over the world who are not able to attend graduation in person can go to to enjoy the ceremony, congratulatory speeches, and “Move the Tassel Moment” for the graduates. The ceremony also features a “Salutation” by SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery; “Board of Trustees Remarks” by SMC Board of Trustees Chair Barry Snell; “Faculty Challenge” by SMC Academic Senate President Jamar London, andthe “Student Challenge” by graduating student Monique Janee Johnson.

“Santa Monica College has a storied history of providing a high-quality education to a diverse student population,” said Ambassador Lu. “I can’t think of a better place to address tomorrow’s leaders and encourage them to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.”

SMC will award 8,557 degrees and certificates. About 1,000 of the 6,162 students who have earned degrees and certificates are expected to take part in this year’s graduation.

“Each year, we try to thoughtfully invite a commencement speaker whose life and career trajectory embodies what is possible for our students, who come from varied backgrounds, and who come to Santa Monica College to fulfill their educational and career goals,” said SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery. “We are thrilled to have Ambassador Chris P. Lu, the son of immigrants, who made history as the second Asian American to become a deputy secretary of any cabinet department! His presence and story will undoubtedly be an inspiration to our graduates and demonstrate the possibilities higher education can unlock.”

Christopher P. Lu was nominated by President Biden on April 27, 2021, and was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for Management and Reform on January 4, 2022, after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

As one of five ambassadors at the U.S. Mission to the UN, Ambassador Lu works to advance American foreign policy interests in all facets of the UN’s work, including peace and security, development assistance, and human rights. Ambassador Lu leads the U.S. Mission’s negotiations on the UN budget, promotes oversight of UN programs, and oversees reform initiatives. 

During his public service career, Ambassador Lu has worked in all three branches of the federal government. From 2014 to 2017, he served as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor. In this role, Ambassador Lu was the chief operating officer of a department with 17,000 employees and a $12 billion budget.

From 2009 to 2013, he served as White House Cabinet Secretary and Assistant to the President, where he was President Obama’s primary liaison to the federal agencies. At the end of the first term, President Obama said, “Through his dedication and tireless efforts, Chris has overseen one of the most stable and effective cabinets in history — a cabinet that has produced extraordinary accomplishments over the past four years.”

During the Obama Administration, Ambassador Lu also co-chaired the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Prior to his service in the executive branch, Ambassador Lu was Legislative Director and Acting Chief of Staff for then-Senator Obama. The day after Election Day 2008, Ambassador Lu was named Executive Director of the Obama-Biden transition planning efforts.

A lawyer by training, Ambassador Lu began his career as a law clerk for Judge Robert E. Cowen on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and a litigation attorney at Sidley Austin. He also spent eight years as Deputy Chief Counsel of the House Oversight Committee.

Outside of government, Ambassador Lu has been a senior advisor at the global technology company FiscalNote, and a senior fellow at the University of Virginia Miller Center. He is the co-editor of the book Triumphs and Tragedies of the Modern Congress, and a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

Ambassador Lu is a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University and a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. He is also the recipient of an honorary doctorate from MacMurray College.

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