U.S. Sen. Cory Booker to Deliver Commencement Address

The New Jersey senator also will receive an honorary degree in public service.

March 28, 2016

Cory Booker

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) will deliver the George Washington University's Commencement address May 15 before an audience of approximately 25,000 graduates, friends and family members on the National Mall.

Mr. Booker also will be awarded an honorary doctorate of public service from the university.

"Senator Booker has excelled throughout his life, from his performance as a student athlete to his academic achievements at Stanford and Yale and as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford to his exceptional career of public service,” said George Washington President Steven Knapp. “He is an inspiration to the students who nominated him for this honor, and we are delighted that he will join us on the National Mall to inform and inspire our graduates.”

Mr. Booker, who was elected to the Senate in 2013 after serving as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, for more than seven years, has established himself as an innovative and bipartisan problem solver. As a public servant, Mr. Booker often takes a hands-on approach, including engaging with citizens on social media. Mr. Booker formally accepted the university’s invitation to speak via Snapchat.

“I am proud to be invited to speak to new graduates of one of the most politically engaged campuses in America who are called to serve and to make a difference in the world,” Mr. Booker said.

Mr. Booker has emerged as a leader in Congress pushing for criminal justice reform, including sentencing reforms and working to ban solitary confinement for juveniles in federal facilities. He has worked with both Republicans and Democrats to create economic proposals, including small business investment and apprenticeship programs to foster greater economic mobility for more Americans. Recently, Mr. Booker announced a new initiative to increase access to healthy food at corner stores in underserved communities in New Jersey.

The senator’s 2016 book, “United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good,” calls on citizens to embrace empathy, compassion, responsibility and action to help guide the nation. The book has been a New York Times bestseller.

After working as a lawyer fighting for tenants’ rights, Mr. Booker was first elected to the Newark City Council at the age of 29. He served as the city’s mayor starting in 2006. During his tenure as mayor, Mr. Booker led initiatives to increase affordable housing, increase educational opportunities, create new green spaces and parks and provide more efficient city services. During that period, the city saw some of its most significant economic growth since the 1960s.

Mr. Booker earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, studied history at the University of Oxford and received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1997.

George Washington’s Commencement is held on the National Mall, and this year’s ceremony will take place on the grounds of the Washington Monument. In addition to the all-university Commencement ceremony, individual schools and colleges will hold ceremonies May 12-15.

Previous GW Commencement speakers include Apple CEO Tim Cook, award-winning actress and alumna Kerry Washington, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, First Lady Michelle Obama, former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and world-renowned chef and humanitarian José Andrés.