Former Indian-American ambassador to deliver commencement address at Pennsylvania alma mater

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U.S. ambassador to India Richard Rahul Verma (R) interacts with women from the fishing community, whohave enrolled at a camp for the ongoing Unique Identification (UID) database drive, as U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (3rd R) looks on, during their visit at Koli fishing village in Mumbai February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Rafiq Maqbool/Pool

The former Indian-American Ambassador to India Richard Verma, will deliver the address at Lehigh University, in Pennsylvania, at its 151st spring commencement May 20.

Verma, who is currently the vice chair and partner at The Asia Group and a Lehigh trustee, is described by the University in a news article on its website, as an alumna who has remained engaged with his alma mater over the years since his own graduation.

About his ambassadorship to India, Forbes describes him as “one of the most consequential envoys to ever occupy the prestigious post …”

“What an honor to give the commencement address at Lehigh, a place that gave me my start, launched me into the professional world, and where I formed my closest friendships,” Verma is quoted saying in the University website, adding,  “It is such a privilege to recognize and congratulate these incredible graduates.”

“We are honored that Rich has agreed to join us and address the graduates and families of the Class of 2019,” said Lehigh President John D. Simon. “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.”

The first Indian-American to be appointed ambassador to India, Verma, a leading expert on trade and diplomacy in Asia, and served in New Delhi from 2014 to 2017.

“Verma facilitated multiple meetings between President Obama and India’s Prime Minister, which led to more than 100 new initiatives and more than 40 government-to-government dialogues,” the University pointed out, noting that Verma was also the first U.S. Ambassador to travel to all of India’s 29 states.

Verma attended Lehigh on an Air Force ROTC scholarship and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1990. He went on to get a B.S. in industrial engineering with a minor in international relations from Lehigh. He also has a law degree from American University.

He was on active duty as an Air Force Judge Advocate, and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal. Last year, he was inducted into the Veterans Hall of Fame in Johnstown, Pa., the city where he was raised, the news report said.

On Capitol Hill, Verma served as Senior National Security Advisor to the then Senate Majority Leader from 2002 to 2007. He served in the State Department  as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from 2009 to 2011.

He was a member of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism led by former Senators Bob Graham and Jim Talent. He is a co-author of the Commissions’ landmark report entitled, “World at Risk.”

Verma is a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He also co-chairs the U.S.-India Task Force at the think tank, Center for American Progress, apart from serving on a number of boards and commissions.

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