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Former Colombian president to deliver University commencement address

| Monday, February 27, 2023

In a statement released Monday morning, Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins announced former Colombian president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Juan Manuel Santos as the principal speaker at the University’s commencement ceremony May 21. Santos, who served as president of Colombia from 2010 to 2018, was the sole recipient of the distinguished award in 2016 for his role in ending Colombia’s 52-year-long civil war, the longest armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere.

“President Santos honored us with his presence on campus last fall as a distinguished policy fellow in our Keough School of Global Affairs, and we look forward to welcoming him back in May,” Jenkins said in the release. “His courageous leadership and resolute commitment ended a half-century-long civil war and put his nation on a path to peace and prosperity.”

In September, Santos delivered the 29th annual Hesburgh Lecture in Ethics and Public Policy, discussing peacebuilding. His ties to Notre Dame go back further.

“President Santos’ relationship with Notre Dame began in 2012, when he turned to Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies for insight and assistance as he began exploratory talks with the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] in an effort to end the long civil war,” the press release said.

According to the release, the Kroc Institute was given primary responsibility for technical verification of the peace accord between the Colombian government and revolutionary forces. The result was the Peace Accords Matrix, the first time a university had been involved so closely in such an agreement.

In his Hesburgh Lecture, Santos shared his vision of leadership to Notre Dame students.

“If you lead with a positive mind and with the truth, you will make the world a better place,” Santos said. “And let it be said about you that one life has breathed easier because you have lived.”

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