Commencement Remarks by
The Honorable John Edward Porter

The Honorable 
John Edward Porter

Member, U.S. Congress, 1980-2000

Chairman Savage, please present the Honorable John Edward Porter.

Mr. President, I have the honor to present the Honorable John Edward Porter to receive at your hand the honorary degree, Doctor of Laws.

John Edward Porter, distinguished statesman, beloved son of the great State of Illinois, the land of Lincoln, and a most revered public servant, Howard University is indeed highly privileged to honor you as we salute our 133rd graduating class.

Representative of the 10th District of Illinois for 11 consecutive terms, your relentless advocacy of multiple issues, ranging from Federal appropriations on health and education policy, to foreign operations in military construction, became synonymous with the ideology that Albert Einstein once enunciated when he remarked that there was nothing he could do to change the structure of the universe. But by raising his voice, he could help in the greatest cause of all, goodwill among humankind and peace on earth.

Throughout your 21 years of service as a member of Congress, you use your voice to make a difference in the lives of all Americans. Since retiring from political office last year, you have continued your pledge to serve others by returning to your first career as an attorney. You are now a partner with the Washington law firm of Hogan and Hartso, where you provide expert advice and counsel on health law, education policy, legislative strategy, and international and environmental issues.

During your fearless years of service in the Congress, you earned the esteemed position of "cardinal," becoming chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Construction, vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, and chairman of the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. In this capacity, each year you faced the daunting challenge of balancing a budget requiring bipartisan support for such complex issues as higher education, health, Medicare, research, science, and labor.

Abraham Lincoln once said nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. As chairman, you successfully used your power to champion a vast array of causes in the interests in humanity, including staunch support for Howard University.

In addition to serving as chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Construction, and as vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, you founded and co-chaired the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a voluntary association of over 250 Members of Congress, working to identify, monitor, and end human rights violations worldwide.

You sponsored legislation creating Radio Free Asia, and served as chairman of Global Legislators, organized for a balanced environment, which is part of a worldwide network of parliamentarians working to coordinate efforts to promote the environment. You are a member of many boards, including the Rand Corporation, Public Broadcasting Service, Research! America, and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the Kemper Insurance Companies, and the Population Resource Center.

Additionally, you have served as a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and have received more than 275 awards for your exceptional service in the Congress.

The Honorable John Edward Porter, extraordinary public servant, national leader, and global humanitarian, Howard University pays homage to you today on this historic occasion of its 133rd Convocation.

Now for all of my colleagues, all of the members of the Class of 2001, who will look back with affection and respect on the I-lab, on the new law school library, on the new health sciences library, on support for our medical school, on support for undergraduate research, when you look back and you think of the support that we have received over time, think of John Edward Porter as one of the individuals who made it possible.

We are now privileged to confer upon you the degree, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, and admit you to all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto. I direct that you now be invested with the hood appropriate to this high degree, and present you with this diploma.

Dr. John Edward Porter.


President Swygert, Chairman Savage, and all the members of the Howard University family, I cannot tell you what a great honor it is both for me personally, and as a representative of the United States Congress, to join the Class of 2001 as a graduate of this great institution. Howard University will always be in my heart. Thank you so much.