U.S. Senator Carl Levin receives honorary degree

May 26, 2011

U.S. Senator Carl Levin to receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters 6-11-11


U.S. Senator Carl Levin
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

U.S. Senator Carl Levin is a frequent visitor and a long-time supporter of Kettering University.  He has shown special interest in Kettering’s alternative energy research, its collaborations with Michigan’s public universities, and Kettering’s impact on economic development in Mid-Michigan.  He has been a good and faithful friend to our University.
Senator Levin was born in 1934 in Detroit and graduated from Detroit’s Central High School. He graduated with honors from Swarthmore College in 1956 and Harvard University Law School in 1959. He practiced and taught law in Michigan until 1964, when he was appointed an assistant attorney general of Michigan and the first general counsel for the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. He helped establish the Detroit Public Defender's Office and led the Appellate Division of that office, which has become the State Appellate Defender's Office.
He won election to the Detroit City Council in 1969, becoming its president in 1973 by winning the most votes citywide. In 1978, he won an upset victory over the number two Republican in the U.S. Senate. He has been reelected to the U.S. Senate in 1984, 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2008.
From the first piece of legislation he introduced as a U.S. senator – a bill to end discrimination by credit card companies – Carl Levin has spoken up for working families, held powerful institutions accountable and worked to build an America that lives up to the ideals of its founders. He has become one of the nation’s most respected leaders on national security, a powerful voice for equality and justice, and a fighter for economic fairness.
TIME Magazine has named him one of America’s 10 best senators.
He comes from a family of public servants. His brother, Sander, represents Michigan’s 12th District in the House of Representatives, and serves as ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee. His father, Saul, served on the Michigan Corrections Commission. One uncle, Theodore Levin, was the chief judge on the U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan.
In the Senate, his top priority is the economic well-being of Michigan families. He has been a consistent voice for support of American manufacturing, the backbone of Michigan’s economy and the nation’s. And he has been one of the Senate’s strongest advocates for policies that would help American manufacturers compete globally, such as the grants for manufacturers of batteries and other components of advanced electric vehicles that have sparked major job creation in Michigan. He also has sought to continue and enhance Michigan manufacturing’s traditional role in protecting national security, supporting efforts to expand the Army’s National Automotive Center and Tank Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren and to strengthen the connections between the Defense Department and Michigan businesses.
Another signature issue is protecting Michigan’s precious and diverse natural environment. As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, he has fought to protect Michigan’s signature natural resource. His work has included support for Great Lakes harbors, which are vital to Michigan’s economy and the nation’s; work to increase funding for Great Lakes environmental restoration; and to preserve the natural, historical and cultural legacy of the lakes, including historic lighthouses. He has played a leading role in helping found the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Keweenaw National Historic Park and in legislation to preserve Michigan wilderness areas.
Since joining the Senate, he has been a member the Armed Services Committee. From 2001 to 2003 and again from 2005 to the present, he has been the committee’s chairman. He has focused on taking care of the men and women of our military and their families, supporting much-needed pay raises and improvements in treatment and other policies for wounded warriors. He has led oversight efforts to improve efficiency and reduce cost overruns in expensive weapons programs. He opposed the resolution giving congressional authorization to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, offering an alternative resolution that would have given time for weapons inspectors to do their work. He supported military action to eliminate the al Qaeda threat in Afghanistan. He has consistently supported policies that would encourage Afghan leaders to take responsibility for their nation’s security.
His legal background is evident in another thread that runs through his career: tough, vigilant oversight of powerful institutions in government and the private sector. He is chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He has led investigations of the 2008 financial crisis, abusive credit card practices, the Enron collapse, speculation in energy and food markets, abusive offshore tax havens and money laundering by corrupt foreign leaders. He established an investigative team on the Armed Services Committee that has probed treatment of detainees in U.S. military custody and abuses by security contractors in Afghanistan. Whether questioning Wall Street executives or top generals, he has earned what Congressional Quarterly called a reputation “for a tough, prosecutorial style of questioning witnesses at hearings that rarely, if ever, comes across as grandstanding.”
He married Barbara Halpern in 1961. They raised three daughters, Kate, Laura and Erica, and they spend as much time as they can with their six grandchildren.
Read Senator Levin’s Commencement speech.