Kasich has served as governor of Ohio since his election in 2010 and, more recently, unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. He was also a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1983 to 2001 and chair of the House Budget Committee.
Dean of the Kennedy School Douglas W. Elmendorf said in an interview Tuesday that administrators decided to invite Kasich out of admiration for his commitment to public service.
“We look for people who have made important contributions to public policy and who can convey to our graduating students and their parents and family members a vision of what people going into public service can do in the world,” Elmendorf said.
In a press release Tuesday, Kennedy School representatives emphasized Kasich’s efforts to improve Ohio’s economy, noting he added “almost 500,000 jobs” during his time as governor.
“Governor Kasich is a truly committed public servant who has gained respect from citizens and colleagues on both sides of the political aisle over a long and distinguished career,” Elmendorf wrote in the press release.
Kasich has a 57 percent approval rating as governor, according to a July 2017 Morning Consult poll. Still, he is facing scrutiny among fellow Ohio Republicans vying to replace him, including his Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor. The Cincinnati Daily Herald reported last month that Taylor was distancing herself from Kasich, reportedly saying she had not seen him for about a year.
Kasich announced in March 2017 that he will not be seeking elected office again after his term as governor ends in early 2019.
Still, some political analysts are naming Kasich, a critic of President Donald Trump both during and after the 2016 election, as a potential challenger to Trump in 2020. Further fueling rumors about his candidacy, Kasich plans to visit New Hampshire, the first state to vote in the presidential primaries, in early April to headline a discussion at New England College.
Elmendorf said he did not know whether Kasich is eyeing the presidency once again. He added he will not see the contents of Kasich’s speech prior to Commencement.
“What he says is up to him. The school gets no credits and there’s no responsibility for the views that are offered,” Elmendorf said.
Previous Kennedy School graduation speakers include former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright.
—Staff writer Alexandra A. Chaidez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @a_achaidez
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