Bustamante, who was at one time the nation's highest ranking Latino elected official, will speak to some 788 students eligible to graduate from UC Merced this spring, along with their families and friends.
"We are privileged to have the Honorable Cruz Bustamante as the commencement speaker for UC Merced's Class of 2012, our largest graduating class," Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Keith Alley said in a press release. "Mr. Bustamante was a key legislative leader in the early development of the 10th UC campus."
Bustamante was first elected to the State Assembly in 1993 and rose to Speaker of the Assembly before becoming lieutenant governor in 1999.
As speaker, he worked closely with his colleagues in the Legislature and officials at the University of California to ensure funds were committed for the campus' early planning and construction. During his terms as lieutenant governor, he continued to advocate for the funding necessary for the opening of the campus in 2005.
"He is a role model of perseverance and determination," Alley said. "His life has taken him from the agricultural fields of western Fresno County to the halls of the state Capitol; Mr. Bustamante will bring a unique perspective to our campus and its student body."
For more information on commencement events, visit commencement.ucmerced.edu.