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January 31, 2017

Penn confirms Cory Booker as 2017 commencement speaker

Cory Booker, U.S. senator for New Jersey, will deliver an address at the University of Pennsylvania's 261st commencement in May, school officials announced Tuesday. 

Considered a rising leader in the Democratic Party, Booker's name has already surfaced as a potential 2020 presidential candidate. His vocal stance against the civil rights and immigration record of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump's pick for attorney general, suggests the first-term senator might try to position himself for an eventual run. 

“We are honored to bestow our highest degree on Senator Cory Booker and have him address our graduates at Penn’s 261st Commencement,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said. “Senator Booker is a passionate advocate and defender of our nation’s most important democratic ideals. During his four-year service in the Senate he has repeatedly reached across the aisle and been a leader on issues such as criminal justice reform, providing support and resources for local law enforcement, comprehensive immigration reform, and fostering economic opportunity. His public service as a senator, as a former Newark, N.J., mayor and city councilperson and as a citizen, embodies Penn’s fundamental values of civic engagement, applying one’s intellect and energy to better the world.”

Booker, a Rhodes scholar who earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Stanford University, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from Penn at the May 15 commencement. The university will also bestow honorary degrees on Isabel Allende, Clara Franzini-Armstrong, Terry Gross, Ada Sue Hinshaw, Robert Parris Moses and Paul Muldoon.

“We are delighted to announce Senator Cory Booker as our Commencement speaker and all of our extraordinary class of honorees. Through their works of outstanding citizenship and public service, discovery and creativity, our honorees exemplify the very highest levels of achievement,” said Andrea Mitchell, Penn trustee and chair of the Trustee Honorary Degrees Committee. “We are privileged to be able to honor them with the Class of 2017.”