Mitt Romney

Image caption: Mitt Romney

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Mitt Romney to give Johns Hopkins Commencement address

U.S. senator and 2012 Republican presidential nominee will address the Class of 2024 on May 23

Jill Rosen
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U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who has spoken out against partisanship and defended democratic ideals, even when it has placed him at odds with the party he once led, will speak at Johns Hopkins University's Commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 23.

Romney will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree during the ceremony at Homewood Field, where about 1,700 Johns Hopkins undergraduates, graduate students and professional students will claim their degrees. About 11,000 students in total will graduate in 2024.

"Mitt Romney's track record of public and private leadership is extraordinary," said Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels. "He has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to working with colleagues from across the political aisle to improve the lives of America's citizens in areas ranging from healthcare delivery and gun safety to environmental protection and infrastructure investment. At a time when our politics are at serious risk of being undermined by extreme polarization, Senator Romney reminds us that the spirit of compromise and civic friendship—even among political rivals—remains a vital and relevant foundation of our democracy."

Willard Mitt Romney started out as a business consultant with the Boston-based investment company Bain & Company, where he became CEO. He went on to co-found Bain Capital.

In 1994, Romney was tapped to lead the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where he was largely credited for saving the games from scandal and disarray. The following year, he was elected governor of Massachusetts, where he led innovative efforts to reduce state deficits and achieve nearly universal health care coverage.

In 2008, he ran for president and, in 2012, he was the Republican presidential nominee, running with U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) against the incumbent President Barack Obama, who won a second term.

Romney then set his sights on the seat of retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and won it in 2018. In Congress, he became a leading voice on foreign affairs, and a lynchpin on bipartisan efforts including COVID relief and infrastructure-related bills. He serves on committees including Foreign Relations; Budget; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; and Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs.

Romney, who has announced that he will not seek a second term, has received attention as an outspoken voice of dissent in his party. His time in office has coincided with increasing threats to global democracy.

In 2021, he was honored with the JFK Library's Profile in Courage Award for "his consistent and courageous defense of democracy" after becoming the first senator in history to vote to convict a member of his own party in a presidential impeachment trial. The headline in the Washington Post that day read: "No senator ever voted to remove a president of his party from office. Until Mitt Romney."

Romney is looking forward to addressing Johns Hopkins' Class of 2024 and sharing advice on making a difference and bridging divides.

"There's extraordinary division, enmity, and vitriol that we see day to day. It makes it very hard for us to accomplish very much here in Washington, if anything at all, and if we're going to be able to deal with the challenges like climate change, the massive debt…we're going to have to have people that can work together," Romney said. "That means recognizing that the differences are something we can learn from, not something we should demonize. That's not actually the message of the day in the world of politics. Hopefully, it's something graduates from our great universities like Johns Hopkins can help spread in our country and in our communities."

Romney earned his bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University and his JD/MBA from Harvard University. He is the author of No Apology: Believe in America and co-author of Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership and the Olympic Games.

The Commencement ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. EDT at Homewood Field on the Johns Hopkins campus. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be postponed until 9 a.m. EDT on Friday, May 24.