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Retired Ambassador Nicholas Burns named 2015 Commencement speaker

| By Stephanie Weaver
Nick Burns
Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, will deliver the commencement address at Loyola University Maryland’s 163rd Commencement Exercises at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, at Royal Farms Arena.

Burns is the director of the Future Diplomacy Project at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, which focuses on promoting the study and understanding of diplomacy, negotiation, and statecraft in international politics. He is also faculty chair for the programs on the Middle East and on India and South Asia.

“We are delighted and honored that Nicholas Burns has accepted our invitation to address the members of Loyola’s Class of 2015,” said Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president of Loyola. “His deep understanding of the issues in our world, along with his appreciation of how a Jesuit education prepares students to meet them head on, will make his remarks particularly relevant for this group of talented, accomplished students as they prepare for this new chapter in their lives.”

Burns has dedicated his life to international affairs, serving in the United States government for 27 years as a career foreign service officer. As under secretary of state for political affairs from 2005 to 2008, he led negotiations on the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, a long-term military assistance agreement with Israel, and was the lead U.S. negotiator on Iran’s nuclear program. He also served as U.S. ambassador to NATO, ambassador to Greece, State Department spokesman, and at the White House National Security Council from 1990-95 as an advisor on Soviet and then Russian affairs for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.  

He is currently a member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board at the U.S. Department of State and writes a biweekly column on foreign affairs for the Boston Globe. He also serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Council on Foreign Relations, Special Olympics, the Atlantic Council, and on the Committee on Conscience at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Burns has received 12 honorary degrees, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from Johns Hopkins University, the Boston College Alumni Achievement Award, and the Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University. 

He received his B.A. in History from Boston College, and his Master’s in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He also earned the Certificat Pratique de Langue Francaise at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. More information about Loyola's 2015 Commencement Exercises is available at

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