CAMBRIDGE, MA—Juan Manuel Santos, former president of the Republic of Colombia and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, will deliver the graduation address to the Harvard Kennedy School Class of 2019. Santos will deliver his remarks to the graduating students, Kennedy School faculty and staff, and invited guests at 2 p.m. on May 29, 2019. The address will take place in JFK Memorial Park next to the Kennedy School.

“President Santos is a distinguished public servant who has made an important positive difference in the lives of millions of Colombians,” said Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf. “We are honored to be able to count him as a graduate of the Kennedy School, and we are delighted to welcome him back to inspire our graduating students as they head into the world.”

Santos served as president of Colombia from 2010 to 2018 and is best known for reaching a disarmament agreement with FARC, the Colombian guerilla army, following more than 50 years of conflict. The accord resulted in the deactivation of some 10,000 FARC fighters, who then began a process of re-entering civilian life. Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for his efforts to restore peace to his country. Santos earned a Mid-Career Master in Public Administration from the Kennedy School in 1981. He served this past year as the Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow at the Kennedy School, where he worked on issues related to peace and reconciliation, poverty, human rights, and the environment. 

Harvard Kennedy School’s 2019 graduating class consists of 582 graduates from 92 countries (including PhD graduates whose degrees are conferred by Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences). The breakdown of these graduates across degrees is the following:

  • Master in Public Administration (MPA), 82
  • Master in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID), 62
  • Mid-Career Master in Public Administration (MC/MPA), 219
  • Master in Public Policy (MPP), 207
  • PhD in Political Economy and Government, 3
  • PhD in Public Policy, 9

Harvard University Commencement Exercises will take place the following day, May 30, in Harvard Yard. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will deliver the University Commencement Address. Immediately following the morning portion of the University Exercises—at roughly 12:15 p.m.—the Kennedy School will host its Diploma Ceremony. 

Both the Harvard Kennedy School Graduation Address and Diploma Ceremony will be streamed live on the HKS website at

For media inquiries or to cover the Harvard Kennedy School Commencement Address with former President Santos, please contact Thoko Moyo, Associate Dean of Communications and Public Affairs at 617-495-9378 or