Bonnie Jenkins, State Department Expert on Global Security, to Deliver Humphrey School Commencement Address

University of Minnesota will also confer honorary doctorate on global peace advocate Daisaku Ikeda
May 2, 2022
Portrait of Bonnie Jenkins
Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, is the keynote speaker at the Humphrey School's 2022 commencement ceremony. 

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is pleased to announce that Bonnie Jenkins, a high-ranking official in the United States Department of State and an expert on nuclear nonproliferation, will deliver the keynote address at the School’s 2022 commencement ceremony, which will be in person for the first time since the pandemic began. 

The School will also recognize Daisaku Ikeda with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the in-person ceremony on Saturday, May 14. Ikeda is a Japanese Buddhist philosopher and global peace advocate. 

Commencement Speaker

Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins is the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. An expert on assessing global threats, from nuclear weapons to global health, Jenkins was named to the position by President Joe Biden in early 2021 after serving on his State Department transition team. 

Prior to her current appointment, Jenkins was a senior fellow at the Humphrey School in the global policy area. 

“I am eager to have our School community and graduating class benefit from your extensive experience in and insights about diplomacy and foreign policy,” said Dean Nisha Botchwey in her invitation to Jenkins. “Your time here at the Humphrey School as a senior fellow, and your commitment to diplomacy, equity, and mentorship of others, has been noticed and appreciated by our School community.”

Jenkins previously served in the Obama administration as special envoy and coordinator for threat reduction programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) from July 2009 until January 2017. In that role, Jenkins coordinated U.S. efforts on threat reduction globally and U.S. government programs in chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological security.

Jenkins is the founder of Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS), a nonprofit devoted to supporting women of color in the fields of national security and conflict resolution. She is the first African American person to hold the rank of Under Secretary of State.

Honorary Degree Recipient

Portrait of Daisaku Ikeda
Daisaku Ikeda

Daisaku Ikeda is a Japanese Buddhist philosopher, peacebuilder, educator, author, and poet.

He was president of the Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist organization in Japan from 1960–'79 and is the founding president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), one of the world's largest and most diverse community-based Buddhist associations, promoting a philosophy of empowerment and social engagement for peace.

He is also the founder of the Soka Schools system and several international institutions promoting peace, culture and education. 

The central tenet of Ikeda's philosophy is the fundamental dignity of life, a value he sees as the key to lasting peace and human happiness. 

Ikeda, 94, has published peace proposals to the United Nations each year since 1983, on topics ranging from nuclear nonproliferation to the education of girls and young people, to climate change mitigation, sustainable development, and access to clean water. The proposals also offer Ikeda’s perspective on the great mission and role of the United Nations.

Ikeda was nominated for the prestigious Doctor of Humane Letters award by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the Humphrey School. 

“Dr. Ikeda has made countless contributions to our global environmental and humanitarian well-being,” according to the nomination letter. “Many of his achievements directly align with the University of Minnesota and our state’s mission to foster cross-sector and cross-societal dialogue among researchers, practitioners, and citizens to fight for environmental quality, human rights, and prosperity.”  

Yoshiki Tanigawa, president of the Ikeda Center, will accept the honorary degree on behalf of Dr. Ikeda during the Humphrey School’s commencement ceremony. 

"What a wonderful way to celebrate the achievements of our future public service leaders at the Humphrey School, than with these two accomplished and inclusive global leaders," said Dean Botchwey. 

In-Person Ceremony

This year’s commencement will provide additional cause for celebration, as the first in-person ceremony in three years. Due to pandemic restrictions, the School held virtual ceremonies the past two years. 

The Humphrey School's commencement will take place Saturday, May 14, at 4 p.m. at Ted Mann Concert Hall on the University of Minnesota’s West Bank.