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President's Cabinet Award



John Volpe has distinguished himself in both public and private life.  After founding and heading Volpe Construction Co. for many years, he entered public service, first in his home state of Massachusetts as Commissioner of Public Works (1953-1956), then as the first Federal Highway Administrator under President Eisenhower.  In his first bid for elective office, he was elected governor of Massachusetts in 1960 in a close race against the incumbent Democrat.  Two years later he was narrowly defeated for reelection, but was returned to office in 1964.  In 1966, he was reelected Governor for the first four-year term in the state’s history.  He resigned in 1969, though, to join President Nixon’s Cabinet as Secretary of the Department of Transportation.  In 1973, he was named Ambassador to the Republic of Italy, a post which he held under Presidents Nixon and Ford, before returning to private life in 1977.  He was called back to public duty in 1982 when President Reagan named him chairman of the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving.  One of six children born to Italian immigrants, he has received numerous decorations from the Republic of Italy including the highest decoration of Knight of the Grand Cross of the order of Merit of the Italian Republic.  He has been decorated by the Vatican as a Knight of Malta and Knight Commander in the Holy Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.  He is also the recipient of 34 honorary degrees from universities and colleges throughout the country.  His activities include serving on the Board of Trustees of St. John’s Seminary in Boston and Cardinal Medeiros’ Management and Budget Committee.  He is past-president of the National Italian American Foundation and currently serves on its board.

Award was presented at the President’s Cabinet Annual Awards Dinner, April 30, 1983.

University of Detroit

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