Graduate Division announces Lois Capps as 2017 commencement keynote speaker

by GradPost Staff
Tuesday, May 09, 2017 2:02 PM

Lois CappsThe Graduate Division is pleased to announce that ​Lois Capps, the former U.S. Representative for California's 24th congressional district (1998 to 2017), will be the keynote speaker for the Graduate Division's 2017 Commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 18, at 4 p.m. on the Faculty Club Green.

"I feel like the UCSB campus is home in many ways, for me and my family," she said. "We are proud to be a part of UCSB over the years, in so many capacities – my own master’s degree that I received there, one of our kids went to UCSB and is an alum, and Walter taught there for 30 years. So UCSB has really been a vital part of our family."

Before she earned her second graduate degree in Education from UC Santa Barbara, Lois received her Master’s degree in Religion from Yale Divinity School and her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Pacific Lutheran University.

She was married for thirty-seven years to Walter Capps, who had degrees from Portland State University, Augustana Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Yale University. He was a prominent professor of Religious Studies at UCSB for over three decades before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996.

Before succeeding Walter in Congress, Lois had successful careers in both nursing and education. She was working full-time as a school nurse at the Santa Barbara Unified School District, an experience that inspired her to venture into the field of Early Childhood Education and to pursue her Master's degree candidate in Education at ​UCSB.

Her professional background in both the health and education fields deeply informed her eighteen years of work in Congress. She was a respected leader in Congress on issues of public health, passing legislation to address the national nursing shortage, detect and prevent domestic violence against women, curb underage drinking, improve mental health services, provide emergency defibrillators to local communities, bring CPR instruction to schools, and provide immediate Medicare coverage to patients suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Lois has also been at the forefront of efforts to protect the environment, leading efforts to stop new oil and gas drilling off our coasts, eliminate new oil drilling in Los Padres National Forest, and protect consumers from shouldering the financial burden of cleaning up MTBE contamination in their water supplies. She was also a leader in gender and LGBTQ issues as well as efforts to make college more affordable.

She retired from Congress in January of 2017 and is grateful to return and engage full-time with the community she loves. She is the proud grandmother to eight wonderful children.

"My professors at UCSB inspired me," she said. "I got into materials that I had never read before and never understood before....It was an exciting part of my life. To be able to come back and celebrate with this year's graduates is an honor."