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Then-Con­gressman Mike Pence, R‑Indiana, speaks on “The Pres­i­dency and the Con­sti­tution” on Sept. 20, 2010, in Phillips Audi­torium. Hillsdale College | Courtesy

Vice Pres­ident Mike Pence has accepted an invi­tation to deliver Hillsdale College’s com­mencement address, The Col­legian exclu­sively has learned.

“We are proud to have Pence, a man of prin­cipled public service, of strong con­sti­tu­tional views, and of deep faith at our campus,” College Pres­ident Larry Arnn said in a statement. “We are glad to have him back for this cul­mi­nating cer­emony of college life.”

Hillsdale is expected to make a public announcement today about Pence’s address to the class of 2018 for its 166th com­mencement cer­emony at 2 p.m. on May 12 in the Biermann Ath­letics Center. His selection marks the end of a more than eight-month search by the senior class officers and the college president’s office for a com­mencement speaker.

“We get a speaker who in his public life, private life, and spir­itual life embodies what we strive for here at Hillsdale College,” Senior Class Pres­ident Razi Lane told The Col­legian. “Mike Pence cap­tures our mission, as a father, husband, Christian, and leader of this country. I couldn’t think of a better person to address the senior class than Vice Pres­ident Mike Pence.”

Although Pence’s speech at Hillsdale would mark his first visit to the college as vice pres­ident, he pre­vi­ously spoke on “The Pres­i­dency and the Con­sti­tution” on Sept. 20, 2010, in Phillips Audi­torium, as a con­gressman. Less than a year later on April 16, 2011, he par­tic­i­pated in a town hall on “Eco­nomic Liberty and the Con­sti­tution” at the Allan P. Kirby Jr. Center for Con­sti­tu­tional Studies and Cit­i­zenship in Wash­ington, D.C.

For awhile, Hillsdale has hoped to bring Pence to campus. Arnn said he told Pence he wanted him to speak at the ded­i­cation cer­emony of the Christ Chapel in 2019, because he “is a dig­nified figure and serious about his faith.” This year’s senior class officers, however, con­vinced him to invite the vice pres­ident to campus early.

Prior to Pres­ident Donald Trump selecting Pence as his running mate in July 2016, the 48th vice pres­ident of the United States served as the 50th gov­ernor of Indiana from 2013 – 2017. He imple­mented the largest tax cuts in the state’s history and advo­cated for more funding of preschools, voucher pro­grams, and charter schools.

Before that, Pence was in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives beginning in 2001. By 2008, Esquire mag­azine named him in the top 10 best members of Con­gress because his “unal­loyed tra­di­tional con­ser­vatism ha[d] repeatedly pitted him against his party elders.”

Although Pence has made his way in Wash­ington, D.C., he is a Midwest native, born and raised in Columbus, Indiana. Addi­tionally, he attended Indi­ana’s Hanover College, a private, liberal arts insti­tution like Hillsdale.

After briefly serving as an admis­sions coun­selor at Hanover, Pence attended the Indiana Uni­versity Robert H. McK­inney School of Law in Indi­anapolis and earned his juris doctor. He prac­ticed law and then ran unsuc­cess­fully for Con­gress in 1988 and 1990. He later worked as pres­ident of the Indiana Policy Review Foun­dation, a state think tank, and had his own syn­di­cated radio talk show and weekly tele­vised public affairs program.

Pence grew up as a Roman Catholic and was a Democrat early in life. During college, however, he became an evan­gelical Christian and found himself being swayed by the “common-sense con­ser­vatism of Ronald Reagan.”

After Pence spoke at Hillsdale in 2010, the college pub­lished his speech in the fol­lowing month’s issue of Imprimis. In it, he dis­cussed his view of states­manship and argues for a limited gov­ernment and a strong mil­itary.

“Power is an instrument of fatal con­se­quence,” Pence said in the speech. “It is con­fined no more readily than quick­silver, and escapes good inten­tions as easily as air flows through mesh. Therefore, those who are entrusted with it must educate them­selves in self-restraint. A republic is about lim­i­tation, and for good reason, because we are mortal and our actions are imperfect.”

Lane said the senior class officers spoke with many of their peers, dis­cussing with them what they would like to see in a com­mencement speaker. For him, Pence is a per­sonal hero, and he said he is proud and honored that Pence will address his senior class with the help of Arnn and his office.

“His track record is one of prin­ciples and rea­sonable con­ser­vatism,” Lane said. “Chiefly, I admire him for his civility and respect in every issue he engages. He is extremely respectful and cordial. There’s a careful balance, and he hits it right on.”
Tickets to the com­mencement cer­emony will be available only for grad­uates and their fam­ilies, Hillsdale employees, and friends of the college.

As stu­dents have waited with antic­i­pation to learn who will be the last to address the class of 2018, Lane said he hopes stu­dents will be thankful and eager to share the stage with Pence next month.

“My prayer has been the speaker we get is worth the wait,” Lane said. “From my per­spective, the selection of Vice Pres­ident Pence has been absolutely worth the wait.”

 

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Breana Noble
Breana Noble is The Collegian's Editor-in-Chief. She is a born and raised Michigander and studies politics and journalism. This summer, Breana interned in New York City at TheStreet, a business and finance news website. She has previously worked for The Detroit News, The American Spectator, and Newsmax Media. She eventually hopes to pursue a career in investigative journalism. email: bnoble1@hillsdale.edu | twitter: @RightandNoble