Lehigh selected former U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma, ‘90, as the 151st commencement speaker, according to a post on University Communications website on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. Verma was the first Indian-American to serve as Ambassador to India.(Courtesy of Lehigh University website)

Former U.S. Ambassador to India announced as 151st commencement speaker

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Former U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma, ’90, has been announced as the 151st commencement speaker by University Communications in a post on its website on March 6.

Verma, a Lehigh alumnus and member of the board of trustees, earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering at Lehigh with a minor in international relations. He now serves as vice chair and partner at The Asia Group.

He was the first Indian-American to serve as ambassador to India. Verma is recognized for strengthening U.S.-Indian relations during his tenure from 2014-2017.  

Verma said it is an “honor” to give the commencement address.

Prior to serving on the board of trustees, Verma served on the board of the Lehigh University Alumni Association, and has remained an active alumnus since leaving the university as an undergraduate. Verma delivered the 2016 P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Spencer C. Schantz Distinguished Lecture, an educational series for Lehigh members interested in the Industrial Science and Engineering department.

“I love coming back here,” Verma said during the 2016 lecture according to the University Communications statement. “I owe this institution a lot. I knew next to nothing when I arrived here in August 1986 and somehow this place helped set me on the right track. For someone from very modest means, going to school here was an awfully enriching and rewarding experience.”

Verma, who has a law degree from American University, has also worked in Washington in the legislative and executive branches. He has also been inducted into the Veterans Hall of Fame after being commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1990 and serving as an Air Force Judge Advocate in active duty.

President John Simon said in a statement to University Communications that the university is happy to have Verma speak to the students and families of the Class of 2019 on May 20.

“Given his extensive experience as a leader, both domestically and on the world stage, Rich’s words will certainly provide inspiration to our graduates, who are about to take on the challenge of being leaders in the world beyond our campus,” said Simon in a statement to University Communications.

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