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Gov. JB Pritzker named Commencement speaker

Illinois governor to deliver address to Northwestern’s Class of 2023

EVANSTON, Ill --- Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker will deliver this year’s commencement address at Northwestern University.

He also will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws. The University will announce additional honorary degree recipients later this month. Northwestern’s 165th commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. Monday, June 12, at Ryan Field on the Evanston campus.

“We’re honored to welcome Gov. JB Pritzker back to campus as this year’s commencement speaker. He’s not only the governor of our great state of Illinois, he’s a graduate of Northwestern Law, and along with his wife, MK, a longtime supporter of the University,” said Northwestern President Michael Schill. “As someone who has made important contributions in a number of fields, including education, business, public service and human rights, he’s uniquely positioned to inspire our graduating students.”

Gov. Pritzker was sworn in as the 43rd Governor of Illinois on Jan. 14, 2019, and took the oath of office for his second term on Jan. 9, 2023. Since taking office, he has accomplished one of the state’s most ambitious policy agendas.

The governor won bipartisan passage for Rebuild Illinois, the largest investment in state history to upgrade roads, bridges, rail, broadband and schools. He has proposed and passed a balanced budget every year he has been in office, eliminating the state’s multi-billion-dollar bill backlog, reducing the state’s pension liability and achieving seven credit upgrades from rating agencies. He has created jobs, overseen the efforts to raise the minimum wage, protected reproductive rights, worked to make higher education more affordable and advanced equal pay for women.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Pritzker prioritized the health and safety of Illinois residents while supporting families and businesses through the COVID-induced recession. In response to the COVID financial crisis, he launched the nation’s largest pandemic relief grant program for small businesses and the nation’s largest housing assistance program.

In 2021, he proposed and signed a comprehensive clean energy bill, making Illinois a national leader on climate action and the first state in the Midwest to pass a law phasing out fossil fuels.

At the start of his second term, Gov. Pritzker has prioritized community safety, signing an assault weapons ban into law, protecting and expanding access to reproductive healthcare for both patients and providers, and supporting a plan to provide paid leave for every worker in the state.

Before becoming governor, Pritzker founded 1871, the non-profit small business incubator in Chicago. Since its creation, Chicago has been named one of the top 10 technology startup hubs in the world by KPMG, Forbes and others, and 1871 was named the top incubator in the world by UBI Global. As governor, Pritzker continues to expand support for new business creation throughout the state and cut taxes for hundreds of thousands of small businesses while incentivizing job creation. Since 2019, annual new business startups in Illinois have grown by nearly 70%. Illinois now has the largest growth in small business creation among the largest states in the nation, ahead of California, Texas, Florida and New York.

Gov. Pritzker received his J.D. from Northwestern Law in 1993. He is a life member of the Northwestern Law Board. In 2015, he and his wife, MK, made a gift to significantly advance the mission and vision of the governor’s alma mater, one of the nation’s leading law schools. The school was renamed the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. 

“I am deeply honored to be invited to join Northwestern University students as this year’s commencement speaker,” said Gov. Pritzker. “As a Northwestern law school graduate, this institution holds a special place in my heart. Northwestern is a source of pride, not only for me, but for all of Illinois, and I look forward to joining the Class of 2023 for its graduation.”