Best-selling author and political commentator E.J. Dionne will give Eastern Mennonite University’s 2015 Commencement address on Sunday, April 26, at 1 p.m. Dionne is a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a university professor in Foundations for Democracy and Culture at Georgetown University.
“I have been reading EJ’s columns in the Washington Post for years, and many others here at EMU have been too,” says EMU president Loren Swartzendruber. “He seemed to be an excellent match for the mission, vision and values of EMU. His writings reveal his consistent orientation toward a society based on fair social and economic practices, rooted in his Christian commitment as a Roman Catholic. He also comes with wide international experience as a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times. I think he will resonate well with many at EMU as our commencement speaker.”
Dionne’s career started in the late 1970s-80s at the New York Times. During that time, he was based in bureaus in Paris, Rome and Beirut, gaining a broad perspective on how international affairs affect American politics. Between these experiences abroad, he reported on government and national politics.
In 1990 Dionne joined the Washington Post as a political reporter. He began writing his bi-weekly column in 1993.
In a few recent columns, Dionne challenges his readers to address “the vexing intersection of wage stagnation, declining social mobility and rising inequality.” To not forget “our country’s struggle over race…but also about our larger quest for justice.” And to suggest, “all sides stop fighting and pool their energies to easing the marriage and family crisis that is engulfing working-class Americans.”
These words resonate with EMU students like senior Jacob Mack-Boll who says he was pleasantly surprised to hear that EMU chose a political writer as the 2015 commencement speaker.
“As someone who is graduating, I feel like there are pieces of my education that have been very political in nature, but on a small scale,” he says. “I want us to have a lens that is outward, as people who can bring about change on a larger level in society. If Dionne will be advocating for societal changes that are realistic and possible, I’m looking forward to what he will be telling us.”
Shortly after Dionne joined the Washington Post, he wrote the book “Why Americans Hate Politics,” which won the Los Angeles Times book prize, and was a National Book Award nominee. Since then he has authored, edited or co-edited nine other books, including most recently “Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent,” published in 2012.
Dionne received a BA from Harvard University in 1973, summa cum laude, and a doctorate from Oxford University in 1982, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife Mary Boyle and their three children, James, Julia and Margot.