Where Did Mike Pence Go to College?

The forever Hoosier, former vice president of the United States, and presidential candidate attended not one, but two universities in his home state of Indiana.
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Updated on June 6, 2023
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  • The 2024 GOP presidential candidate graduated from Hanover College in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in history and a new outlook on the Republican Party.
  • At Hanover, he served as the president of his fraternity.
  • In 1986, he earned his juris doctor degree from Indiana University Law School, where he also met his future wife.

Mike Pence has filed his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to be a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and is slated to officially announce his candidacy on June 7—his 64th birthday.

The former vice president will join several other candidates, including Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, and Ron DeSantis, vying for the Republican nomination.

Before serving in the Trump administration as vice president, Pence was the governor of Indiana from 2013-2017 and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001-2013. But his leadership aspirations began even earlier, when Pence served as a fraternity president at Indiana's Hanover College.

Indiana Raised and Educated

Pence was born and raised in Columbus, Indiana, along with five siblings. His parents started a successful convenience store business in their small town, and he has said he was raised to believe in the importance of "hard work, faith, and family" throughout his young life. After graduating from Columbus North High School, he took the short trek to the oldest private college in the state, Hanover College, just outside Madison, Indiana. The liberal arts school is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.

Pence earned his bachelor's degree in history from Hanover and, according to White House archives, "while there, he renewed his Christian faith which remains the driving force in his life."

Along with expanding his faith, his college experience influenced him to change his political affiliation. According to The Atlantic, Pence went to college as a Jimmy Carter fan, but he left a Ronald Reagan supporter.

Pence, who earned a B+ average, was elected president of Hanover's chapter of the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity as a sophomore.

According to Business Insider, Pence was not a hard partier, but he was often called upon to "smooth things over" with authority figures. Because he stayed on good terms with the administration, he was offered a job in the school's admissions department following his graduation in 1981.

For the next two years, Pence studied for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and traveled across the state as a representative for the admissions department. Pence finally earned his juris doctor degree from Indiana University Law School in 1986. While in school, Pence met and married his wife, Karen Pence.

Commitment to Alma Mater Remains Strong

In 2008, Pence spoke at Hanover's commencement ceremony. "Hanover is such a special place to me. It has come to mean education, friendships and faith … I arrived at Hanover in 1977, stood in front of Crowe Hall as my parents drove away and wondered if I'd ever make it. I was scared. A small-town boy, 90 miles from home, with just one pay phone in the lobby, I was homesick by the dinner," he said.

"And then I met my roommate, attended my first class, went to my first fraternity p--, er, 'social gathering' and I never looked back. I was hooked on Hanover, and I still am."

Even though he left Hanover on good terms, alums have since questioned Pence's political track record. In 2017, over 400 alums signed a letter to the vice president, questioning his involvement in Trump administration practices they viewed as discriminatory.

"We hope you remember the lessons learned at Hanover College, including the value of other religious and cultural traditions; the importance of scientific research; and the necessity of an unfettered press, free and open elections, and our nation's public education system," the letter says.

"We are saddened that so little of the rich undergraduate education that we received at Hanover College is evident in your political career to date, and we hope that you will find the needed courage and commitment to become a leader who governs from a position of informed and rational judgment and true Christian compassion."

Honorary Degrees Spark Controversy

Pence has earned honorary degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Ariel University in Israel. During his commencement address at Notre Dame in 2017, a large crowd of students walked out of the ceremony in protest.

According to one of the student protesters, "the students who walked out objected to Mr. Pence's role in the Trump administration as well as his record as an Indiana congressman and governor, when he opposed admitting Syrian refugees and rights for unauthorized immigrants and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."

"Far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech," Pence said during the commencement.