Tom Vilsack, a 1972 Hamilton graduate, won re-election as governor of Iowa on Nov. 5. When he was first elected to the post in 1998, Vilsack became Iowa's first Democratic governor in three decades. Upon completion of his second four-year term, he will be the longest-serving Democratic chief executive in the state's history.
"Tonight the election ends. Tomorrow Iowa's future begins," Vilsack told his supporters at a gathering following the election. "We are prepared to govern and inspired to lead."
After earning his bachelor's degree, Vilsack, a Pittsburgh native, graduated in 1975 from Albany Law School. He was a partner in the Bell and Vilsack Law Office from 1975 to 1998, then served as mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, from 1987-1992. Vilsack served as State Senator in Iowa's 49th District from 1992-1998, where he helped shape legislation for the Democratic majority.
As Hamilton's Commencement speaker in 2001, he told the members of the graduating class that wisdom and understanding don't always have to be derived from the complex, and he urged them to look for the simple things in life.
Vilsack and his wife, Christie, a 1972 Kirkland College graduate, have two sons, including Jess, a 2000 Hamilton graduate.