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Notre Dame to honor Pence, not Trump, as commencement speaker

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 03/02/17

From the university’s press office: 

Vice President Mike Pence will receive an honorary degree and serve as principal speaker at the University of Notre Dame’s 172nd commencement ceremony May 21 (Sunday). He becomes the first vice president of the United States to deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame. “It is fitting that in the 175th year of our founding on Indiana soil that Notre Dame recognize a native son who served our state and now the nation with quiet earnestness, moral conviction and a dedication to the common good characteristic of true statesmen,” said Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. “With his own brand of reserved dignity, Mike Pence instilled confidence on the state level then, and on the world stage now. We are proud to welcome him to represent the new administration.” Pence was born in Columbus, Indiana, June 7, 1959, one of six children of Edward and Nancy Pence, who established a successful convenience store in their small Indiana city 45 miles south of Indianapolis. Pence earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 1981 from Hanover College. He later attended Indiana University School of Law, where he met his future wife, Karen. The Pences have three children: Michael, Charlotte and Audrey. After graduating from law school, Pence practiced law, led the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, and began hosting “The Mike Pence Show,” a syndicated talk radio show, and a weekly television public affairs program in Indiana. In 2000, he launched a successful bid for his local congressional seat, entering the U.S. House of Representatives at the age of 40. The people of East-Central Indiana elected Pence six times to represent them in Congress. He was subsequently elected by his colleagues to serve as chairman of the House Republican Study Committee and House Republican Conference chairman. In 2013, Pence was elected the 50th governor of Indiana, and served through the end of last year. The Republican Party’s nominees for president and vice president of the United States, Donald Trump and Mike Pence, were elected Nov. 8 and took their oaths of office Jan. 20. The White House news release can be viewed here.

The Washington Post has some context: 

Notre Dame spokesman Paul Browne declined to say whether Trump was invited to the May 21 ceremony or might be asked to visit the South Bend, Indiana, campus in the future. Browne said he expects Pence will be “warmly welcomed.” “But that doesn’t mean we won’t receive complaints from people who would have preferred someone else,” Browne said. “We typically do.” Pence said in a statement that it’s “extraordinarily humbling” to be able to return home to Indiana for the Notre Dame ceremony, during which he will be awarded an honorary degree. The country’s best-known Roman Catholic university faced withering criticism from dozens of bishops and anti-abortion groups over its decision to have President Barack Obama, an abortion rights supporter, speak at the 2009 commencement just months after he took office. Pence will be the first vice president to give the Notre Dame commencement address, while six presidents dating back to Dwight Eisenhower have done so. Besides Obama, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have done so during their first year in office, according to the university.
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