Photo of Sen. Richard J. Durbin in a dark suit, smiling.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin will be Northeastern Illinois University’s December 2022 Commencement speaker.

Durbin is the 47th U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois and serves as the state’s senior senator and the convener of the Illinois’ bipartisan congressional delegation. Durbin also serves as the Senate Majority Whip, the second highest ranking position among the Senate Democrats. He has been elected to this leadership post by his Democratic colleagues every two years since 2005. Durbin serves as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and sits on the Appropriations and Agriculture Committees.

“Sen. Durbin has introduced and co-sponsored legislation that is in-line with the values of Northeastern Illinois University: integrity, excellence, access to opportunity, diversity, community and empowerment through learning,” University President Gloria J. Gibson said. “Given his leadership and proven commitment to serve the people of our state and our country with equity, I am confident that his address will resonate with our diverse population of students, faculty, staff and all who will celebrate our graduates.”

In addition to introducing and co-sponsoring bills to support the DREAM Act and students who wish to study abroad, implementing student borrower protections and creating a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, Durbin also introduced the Genocide Accountability Act of 2007 and the Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2009 and was a co-sponsor of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. He has introduced or been a co-sponsor of hundreds of bills to support healthcare, voting rights, environmental protections, benefits for military and veterans, and many other important human rights initiatives. 

All of these bills reflect issues of importance to Northeastern as a partner of over 40 international institutions, the longest-standing four-year public Hispanic-Serving Institution in the Midwest, home to the Genocide and Human Rights in Africa and the Diaspora (GHRAD) Center and a collaborator with the Prison+Neighborhood Arts/Education Program.

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and reelected in 2002, 2008, 2014 and 2020, Durbin fills the seat left vacant by the retirement of his longtime friend and mentor U.S. Sen. Paul Simon. 

Durbin, who graduated with a law degree from Georgetown University, will be awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters during the ceremony.

Commencement is scheduled for 2 p.m. Dec. 11 at Credit Union 1 Arena (formerly UIC Pavilion), 525 S. Racine Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are required. The ceremony will be streamed live at