Janet Napoli­tano, the former Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­rity who is now pres­i­dent of the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­fornia, will deliver Northeastern’s 112th com­mence­ment address on May 2, 2014. Joseph E. Aoun, pres­i­dent of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, broke the news on Twitter Tuesday night.

A ded­i­cated and dis­tin­guished public ser­vant, Napoli­tano will receive an hon­orary doc­torate during the morning under­grad­uate cer­e­mony at TD Garden, which will include 20,000 under­grad­uate stu­dents, family mem­bers, friends, and uni­ver­sity leaders.

The breadth and depth of Pres­i­dent Napolitano’s achievements—as gov­ernor of Ari­zona, Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­rity, and now as the leader of one of the world’s great sys­tems of higher education—are inspiring,” Aoun said. “Her com­mit­ment to making an impact on society through public ser­vice is exem­plary of the accom­plished, ful­filled life we aspire for all North­eastern grad­u­ates to achieve.”

In 2009, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama nom­i­nated Napoli­tano as the nation’s third Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­rity. She was the first woman appointed to serve in that role, in which she led mul­tiple agen­cies whose mis­sions range from coun­tert­er­rorism and border secu­rity to dis­aster response and recovery.

Obama also named Napoli­tano to lead the U.S. del­e­ga­tion to the Sochi Games ear­lier this year.

Napoli­tano was named the 20th pres­i­dent of the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­fornia. Since taking office in Sep­tember 2013, she has launched ini­tia­tives across a range of issues, including sup­port for stu­dent vet­erans, increasing the pipeline of under­rep­re­sented minority stu­dents pur­suing advanced degrees, and tuition sta­bi­liza­tion and finan­cial aid for undoc­u­mented stu­dents. In addi­tion, she has com­mitted to achieving carbon neu­trality across the UC system by 2025, increasing fac­ulty sup­port through post-​​doctoral fel­low­ships, trans­lating research into prod­ucts and ser­vices, and strength­ening engage­ment with Mexico.

She leads a uni­ver­sity system with 10 cam­puses, five med­ical cen­ters, three affil­i­ated national lab­o­ra­to­ries, and a statewide agri­cul­ture and nat­ural resources pro­gram. The UC system has more than 234,000 stu­dents, about 208,000 fac­ulty and staff, more than 1.6 mil­lion living alumni and an annual oper­ating budget of more than $24 billion.

Higher edu­ca­tion is the key to devel­oping future gen­er­a­tions of the indi­vid­uals who will ensure the strength of com­mu­ni­ties across our nation and beyond our bor­ders,” Napoli­tano said. “It’s an honor to have been asked to address the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity grad­u­ates who will help lead the way.”

During her four-​​year tenure as Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­rity, Napoli­tano took impor­tant steps to tap into the exper­tise and research capacity of Amer­ican col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, including the for­ma­tion of the new Home­land Secu­rity Aca­d­emic Advi­sory Council. Com­prised of 19 promi­nent uni­ver­sity pres­i­dents and aca­d­emic leaders—including Pres­i­dent Aoun—the council is charged with advising the sec­re­tary and the department’s senior lead­er­ship on sev­eral key issues.

Napoli­tano has a long­standing com­mit­ment to public ser­vice. In addi­tion to serving at the fed­eral level as Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­rity and U.S. attorney for the Dis­trict of Ari­zona, she has held lead­er­ship posi­tions in the Ari­zona state gov­ern­ment including gov­ernor and attorney gen­eral. Napoli­tano made education—from pre-​​kindergarten through higher education—a top pri­ority while gov­ernor and during her tenure became the first woman to chair the National Gov­er­nors Association.

Napoli­tano was born in New York and spent much of her child­hood in Pitts­burgh and Albu­querque, N.M., where her father was dean of the Uni­ver­sity of New Mexico School of Med­i­cine. In 1979, she earned a bach­elor of sci­ence in polit­ical sci­ence from Santa Clara Uni­ver­sity and was the university’s first Truman Scholar and its first female vale­dic­to­rian. She earned her juris doctor from the Uni­ver­sity of Vir­ginia School of Law in 1983.

Napoli­tano fol­lows Jim Yong Kim, pres­i­dent of the World Bank, who deliv­ered Northeastern’s 2013 under­grad­uate com­mence­ment address. Prior com­mence­ment speakers include U.S. Pres­i­dents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton; former Sec­re­tary of State Colin L. Powell; phil­an­thropist and inter­na­tional busi­ness leader Ken­neth Cole; former Soviet pres­i­dent Mikhail Gor­bachev; and former Sec­re­tary of State Madeleine Albright.

North­eastern will announce addi­tional hon­orary degree recip­i­ents for this year’s com­mence­ment in the coming weeks. Each year, the uni­ver­sity rec­og­nizes the lead­er­ship and accom­plish­ments of a broad array of indi­vid­uals who will inspire grad­u­ates and all mem­bers of the North­eastern community.