Kennedy widow to speak to UMass grads

Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, will give the commencement address to graduating UMass-Boston students in June, campus officials said this week. The commencement is scheduled for Fri., June 4, at 9:30 a.m. on the Campus Center’s lawn.

The Louisiana native married Kennedy in 1992 and was one of his closest advisers. She is the president and founder of Common Sense about Kids and Guns.

Daisaku Ikeda, a Buddhist philosopher and author, and George Russell, Jr., executive vice president and director of community affairs for State Street Corp., will receive honorary degrees at the ceremony. Russell, a former treasurer for the city of Boston and president of the Freedom National Bank of New York, is now the head of the State Street Foundation.

The choice of Kennedy as the commencement speaker comes as the university prepares to break ground on a center for the study of the U.S. Senate named for her husband. It will be located between the JFK Presidential Library and Museum and the Columbia Point campus. Past commencement speakers include U.S. Sen. John Kerry, then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, local author Dennis Lehane, and the late “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert.