Knox College announced today that U.S. Senator Dick Durbin will be the speaker at the 2016 Commencement exercises to be held in June.
Senator Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield, is the 47th U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois, the state's senior senator, and the convener of Illinois' bipartisan congressional delegation. Durbin serves as the Assistant Democratic Leader, the second highest ranking position among the Senate Democrats. Also known as the Minority Whip, Senator Durbin has been elected to this leadership post by his Democratic colleagues every two years since 2005.
"It is an honor to welcome Senator Durbin as this year's Commencement speaker," says Knox College President Teresa L. Amott. "His commitment to public service and issues like college access and human rights speaks to the College’s own long-standing commitments and priorities. The senior class officers are very excited that we were able to secure a Commencement speaker with a distinguished career in public service and dedication to many pivotal issues facing the nation today."
Elected to the U.S. Senate on November 5, 1996, and re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014, Durbin fills the seat left vacant by the retirement of his long-time friend and mentor, U.S. Senator Paul Simon. He sits on the Senate Judiciary, Appropriations, and Rules Committees, and is the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution and the Appropriations Committee's Defense subcommittee.
During his nearly 20 years in the U.S. Senate, Durbin has sponsored or co-sponsored legislation on many key state and national issues, including education, healthcare, immigration and the DREAM Act, veterans benefits, consumer protection, and gun safety. Most recently, he urged Senate leadership to take up and pass legislation to reauthorize the Perkins Loan Program, a critical lifeline for many low-income students.
Durbin was born and grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois. After graduating from Assumption High School in East St. Louis, he attended Georgetown University, where he received his B.S. and J. D. degrees. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983-1997. He resides in Springfield and makes approximately 50 round trips a year between Washington and Illinois.
The 2016 Knox College Commencement will be held on Sunday, June 5 at 10:00 a.m. on the South Lawn of Old Main on the Knox College campus. It is free and open to the public.