Techiest college commencement speakers of 2015

Tim Cook, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty among the headliners for college commencements

tech commencement 1

Commencement speakers

Colleges and universities across the country have begun touting their Class of 2015 commencement speakers, including some of the biggest names in the technology industry. The tech industry has been well represented over the years, with everyone from Steve Jobs (Stanford, 2005) to Bill Gates (Harvard, 2007) sharing words of wisdom. Here’s a look at who will be speaking in 2015. (LOOK BACK at 2014’s top techie commencement speakers)


Marc Benioff, CEO, University of California at Berkeley, May 16

Benioff, who launched San Francisco-based cloud giant Salesforce in 1999,  is also known as “an outspoken advocate for social justice as well as an innovative and generous philanthropist,” according to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an honorary degree from the University of Southern California.


Carly Fiorina, former head of HP, Southern New Hampshire University, May 9

The ex-CEO of HP, who plans to announce her bid for President of the United States as a Republican, must figure she better start hanging out in New Hampshire sooner or later.  Fiorina was the first woman to lead a Fortune 50 company. She has degrees from Stanford, MIT and the University of Maryland.

tech commencement 2

Ursala Burns, Xerox CEO, Williams College, June 7

Burns, who began working at Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern, rose to become CEO in 2009, making her the first African-American woman to hold such a position at a Fortune 500 company. Burns is a founding board director of Change the Equation, an organization committed to improving STEM education.

tech commencement 3

Megan Smith, United States Chief Technology Officer, MIT, June 5

Smith, who has undergraduate (1986) and master's (1988) degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, was named by President Barack Obama as the chief technology officer of the United States in September. Before that, she was VP of new business development at Google.

tech commencement 4

Virginia Rometty, IBM CEO, Northwestern University, June 19

Rometty, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and electrical engineering from Northwestern, has been ranked No.1 in Fortune magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” for the last three years. In February, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

tech commencement 5

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, George Washington University, May 17

Cook’s busy past couple of years have included leading Apple to become the first public company to surpass a market valuation of $700 billion and taking the lead on social justice issues. Cook earned a bachelor in science degree from Auburn University and an MBA from Duke University.

tech commencement 6

France Cordova, National Science Foundation director, Pomona College, May 17

Cordova was sworn in as director of the NSF in March 2014 and leads the only government agency charged with advancing all fields of scientific discovery; technological innovation; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. She was NASA's chief scientist, from 1993 to 1996, and was president of Purdue University from 2007-2012. She’s a graduate of Stanford University and the California Institute of Technology.

tech commencement 7

George Takei, actor (“Mr. Sulu," original Star Trek TV show), University of California Hastings College of the Law, May 10

While Takei is best known for his 1960s role as Mr. Sulu on the Star Trek TV series, he has gone on to become a well-read author, Broadway actor, social justice activist and social media superstar (8.5 million Facebook likes).

tech commencement 8

Kevin Colleran, venture capitalist/Facebook veteran, Babson College, May 16

As one of Facebook’s first 10 employees, Colleran helped the social networking service grow to become one of the world’s most influential global companies. As Facebook’s Global Partnership Lead, he was responsible for managing the advertising relationships with some of the world’s largest advertisers. Colleran left Facebook after a seven-year stint. At Slow Ventures, a venture capital firm Colleran co-founded and now manages, he invests the personal capital of dozens of top technology founders, CEOs, and executives into early-stage companies such as Evernote, Nest, Pinterest, Tumblr and Dropbox. He is also Colleran is also a Venture Partner at General Catalyst Partners, which focuses on Series A and Series B technology investing.

tech commencement 9

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google, Virginia Tech, May 15

The Google executive chairman, formerly the company’s CEO, will be making a return appearance as Virginia Tech’s commencement speaker. He did it back in 1999 while CEO of Novell. Why the connection with the school? His dad used to be head of Virginia Tech’s Department of Economics.


Nathan Myhrvold, inventor and ex-Microsoft CTO, UCLA, June 12

This UCLA alumnus founded Intellectual Ventures in 2000 after retiring from his position as chief strategist and chief technology officer of Microsoft. Under his leadership, Intellectual Ventures manages one of the largest and fastest-growing intellectual property portfolios in the world, with more than 40,000 assets and over $6 billion in total committed capital from many of the world’s most innovative companies and renowned academic and research institutions.