U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a scientist and businessman representing the 11th Congressional District of Illinois, will be the speaker for North Central College’s 149th Commencement on June 14 and receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.
Foster’s district includes part of the North Central College campus, and he is a strong supporter of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and other important science initiatives. He supports economic development in the 11th District with initiatives like Project Growth, which is focused on issues like strengthening the middle class, transportation, education and manufacturing.
Foster serves on the House Committee on Financial Services and has participated in the creation of several important reforms in the financial services and housing sectors, most notably the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University. After completing his Ph.D., he pursued a 22-year career in high-energy (particle) physics at Fermilab near Batavia.
He has been elected a fellow of the American Physical Society, was on the team receiving the 1989 Bruno Rossi Prize for cosmic ray physics for the discovery of the neutrino burst from the supernova SN 1987A, received the Particle Accelerator Technology Prize from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and was awarded an Energy Conservation award from the U.S. Department of Energy for his invention and application of permanent magnets for Fermilab’s accelerators.
Foster’s business career began at age 19 when he and his younger brother cofounded Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc., a company that now manufactures more than half the theater lighting equipment in the United States.
Foster, a Democrat, was first elected to the 11th District seat in 2012. He previously served from March 2008 until January 2011 as representative of the Illinois 14th Congressional District. He lives in Naperville with his wife Aesook, who is also a physicist, and has two grown children.
The Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 14, is expected to draw more than 5,000 parents, alumni and visitors to North Central College’s Residence Hall/Recreation Center, 440 S. Brainard St. Tickets are not required but seating is on a first-come, first-served basis so guests are encouraged to arrive early; doors open at 8:30 a.m. for guest seating. The academic procession begins at 9:40 a.m. Visit northcentralcollege.edu/content/commencement to learn more.