CROOKSTON, Minn. — Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture will address the University of Minnesota Crookston class of 2022 along with family and friends at the UMN Crookston commencement exercises at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

Thomas J. Vilsack was confirmed as the 32nd United States Secretary of Agriculture on Feb. 23, 2021 by the U.S. Senate. He was nominated by President Joe Biden to return to a role where he served for eight years under President Barack Obama. He was previously the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture 2009 to 2017 and Governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007.

“It is indeed an honor that the United States Secretary of Agriculture will be addressing the University of Minnesota Crookston’s 2022 graduating class. The Red River Valley has a long and proud history of feeding the world. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack has been a strong proponent of supporting rural economic development through investments in agricultural businesses and communities, growing local food infrastructure,” said UMN Crookston Chancellor, Mary Holz-Clause. Holz-Clause added, Vilsak was governor of Iowa while I lived there, among his signature accomplishments was the development of the Grow Iowa Values Fund, which stimulated economic development for the state.

“The fact that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture agreed to serve as our commencement speaker reflects the growing profile of the University of Minnesota Crookston. We are a regional leader in agriculture, and rural economic development,” said John L. Hoffman, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. “Mr. Vilsack is known for building bipartisan coalitions to address critical issues including food insecurity, conservation and sustainability, and civil rights in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). As our graduates begin their careers of influence at work and in their communities, I have no doubt they will find strength and inspiration from Mr. Vilsack,” Hoffman said.

UMN Crookston’s academic degrees are rooted in agriculture and the campus continues to partner with the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), the Northwest Research & Outreach Center (NWROC) and the University of Minnesota Extension. Bergland Laboratory is actually the result of a collaborative effort among UMN Crookston, AURI and the NWROC. The building serves as a center for teaching, for applied student lab experiences, and for research in the agronomic, botanical, and horticultural sciences. The facility was officially dedicated as the Bergland Laboratory in 2003. Bergland, a lifelong resident of Roseau, Minn., served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture during the Carter Administration (1976-1980).

Vilsack was born into an orphanage in Pittsburgh, Pa., and adopted in 1951. After earning a law degree from Albany Law School in New York, he moved to his wife’s home town of Mount Pleasant, Iowa where he practiced law. His wife, Christie, was a middle and high school teacher in her early career and has since served as a senior advisor for international education with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

About the University of Minnesota Crookston

One of five campuses in the University of Minnesota System, the University of Minnesota Crookston cultivates curiosity by engaging students in hands-on learning connecting theory to practice. As the experienced leader in delivering education online, the Crookston campus offers a distinctive learning environment providing personal attention and mentorship to develop leaders, lifelong learners, and engaged citizens. Visit Crookston at

About the University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota System, with campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester, and the Twin Cities, is driven by a singular vision of excellence. We are proud of our land-grant mission of world-class education, groundbreaking research, and community-engaged outreach, and we are unified in our drive to serve Minnesota. Learn more at

Story Contact: Shawn Smith