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Commencement Speaker

Steny H. Hoyer '63

U.S. House Majority Leader


Steny H. HoyerIt was at the University of Maryland that Steny Hoyer first heard the call to pursue a life in public service. As a student, he listened to an address on campus by President John F. Kennedy and was inspired to get involved in politics, beginning a journey that would lead to him become the first Marylander in history to serve as majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives.

After graduating in 1963 from the University of Maryland, earning the distinction of “Outstanding Male Graduate,” Hoyer went on to receive his law degree from Georgetown University. That same year, he won a seat representing Prince George’s County in the Maryland State Senate. Inspired by the civil rights movement, he cast one of his first votes to end the ban on interracial marriage in Maryland, and he focused his work in the State Senate on making housing more affordable and equitable and expanding transit options for commuters as the county grew. In 1975, at age 35, Hoyer became the youngest State Senate president in Maryland’s history, a record he still holds. He was first elected to Congress in 1981.

As the longest-serving member of the House in Maryland’s history, Hoyer has spent every day fighting for the people of the state’s Fifth District. He played a key role in the passage of such major legislation as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Violence Against Women Act, the Help America Vote Act, the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He is a strong advocate for raising the minimum wage, ensuring equal pay, securing voting rights and combating climate change.

Hoyer’s support for the university’s expansion of research and teaching is rivaled only by his lifelong support for Maryland Athletics. In addition to securing funding for key university initiatives, Hoyer has also worked to expand federal funding for local facilities, public schools and community development programs that fight poverty. Hoyer has been a champion of full-service community schools, helping to launch and grow Maryland’s nationally recognized network of early childhood centers. He has also been a tireless advocate for a cleaner and healthier Chesapeake Bay, securing millions in funding for bay cleanup programs.

Hoyer is a former member of the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland. He and his wife, the late Judith Pickett Hoyer, have three daughters, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.