by Martha Sadler

Lynn Scarlett — the acting secretary of the Interior — will be the commencement speaker at UCSB’s Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, a choice regarded by some as ironic given environmentalists’ outspoken criticism of the Bush administration. Active in Carpinteria’s Libertarian Party before going on to the presidency of the libertarian Reason Foundation and government posts, Scarlett earned her BA, MA, and doctorate in political science at UCSB. Scarlett’s official position is assistant secretary, though she has been acting as head of the Interior since former secretary Gail Norton resigned in March in the wake of the bribery scandals surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff. According to a Bren School faculty member who asked not to be identified, the invitation — which was extended by the school’s dean when he met Scarlett in Washington — does “not necessarily reflect our overall agreement with the policy of the U.S. Department of the Interior,” but does signal an attempt to “reach out and make a difference at the highest levels of government.”

Other masters of industry and government who will address some 4,800 graduates between June 11 and 18 include William Perry, who served as former president Clinton’s secretary of Defense, speaking to the College of Engineering and Science; Nancy Ann Harvey, TenFold Corporation CEO and UCSB alumna, speaking to the College of Creative Studies; and Fred Gluck, former managing partner of the international management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., speaking to the departments of science and math. Elizabeth Gabler, president of Fox 2000 Pictures, will speak Sunday at the Humanities and Fine Arts commencement. In the social sciences department, the two speakers will be Wilma Mankiller, executive director and former chief of the Cherokee Nation, and William Strickland, CEO of the nonprofit vocational training giant Manchester Bidwell Corporation. Speaking at the graduate division ceremony will be a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant recipient, MIT materials science professor, and UCSB alumna Angela Belcher.

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