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Georgetown University Statement on SFS Commencement

May 10, 2016

The School of Foreign Service awards honorary degrees to speakers seeking to resolve the most complex global challenges of our time. In training future global leaders to solve the most complicated policy questions of our time, SFS honors those individuals who have dedicated their careers to problem-solving at the highest levels of government.

This year, SFS has selected Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who has for decades been engaged in critical issues facing our nation and our world, such as homeland security, migration, terrorism, disaster response and more. These are challenges without simple answers and finding solutions requires collaboration, negotiation and compromise among stakeholders and policy makers. Throughout his long career, Jeh Johnson has been at the center of these complex challenges, displaying leadership in seeking to find viable and politically tractable solutions to these issues, often facing criticisms from throughout the political spectrum.

Some of our students have expressed concerns regarding our invitation to Secretary Johnson and the policies of the Department of Homeland Security, including some students whose lives are directly impacted by the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws and policies. We respect these concerns and recognize the commitment of students who are advocating on the impact that laws and policies have on people’s lives.

As a university, we are uniquely committed to the free exchange of ideas and discourse. We believe that the best approach to address concerns is through dialogue and engagement. Our University leadership will meet with students this week to hear their experiences and concerns and is committed to seeking forums in which Secretary Johnson's engagement on campus can foster even more dialogue on these challenging issues.

As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, Georgetown is proud to value all members of our community, regardless of immigration status. The university offers support for undocumented students and is committed to providing resources to them as members of our university community.  

Georgetown University Office of Communications