ASU announces its speaker for the 2018 undergraduate commencement

L. Rafael Reif, the president of MIT, will speak at the ceremony on May 7

L. Rafael Reif, the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will deliver the address at ASU’s 2018 undergraduate commencement on May 7.

A first-generation college student who grew up in Venezuela, Reif has served as MIT’s president since July 2012, after his time as the university’s provost.

During the ceremony, ASU will present Reif, an electrical engineer, with a doctorate of humane letters to commemorate his work and achievements at MIT. 

Michael Crow, president of ASU, described Reif as a “tremendous example of the tenacity of the human spirit” in a statement.

“He is in many ways like a lot of our graduates: first in his family to go to college and doggedly determined to make a difference in this world,” Crow wrote in the statement. “I can’t think of a better person to inspire the class of 2018 as they set off on their lives and careers.”

According to his biography, Reif has served as a pioneer in science, innovation and entrepreneurship during his time at MIT. In addition, he has led multiple efforts to address race and diversity at the university as well as advance online learning on various platforms like MITx and edX.

On a national scale, former President of the United States Barack Obama asked Reif to co-chair the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee “2.0," which is a renewed effort to allow the nation's industry, academia and government to work together in rejuvenating the manufacturing sector within the U.S., according to its website.

Throughout the years, Reif has shown passion in the advancement of innovation within technology and its impact in society, something he addressed during MIT’s commencement in June 2017.

“But the truth is that one of today’s great challenges is how to help society navigate the unintended impact of technology itself,” Reif said during his address. “So, as you work together to conjure new ideas, to invent new products, to design new ways to manufacture them and to devise new ways to use them in the world, I hope you will consider their impact on all of society, right from the start.”

This year’s undergraduate commencement ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix on May 7. That same day, individual college convocations along with special interest convocations will being to take place across the University’s four major campuses.


Reach the reporter at Kimberly.Rapanut@asu and follow @kimrapanut on Twitter.

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