Though some USC students do not know of Ballmer, many are excited to hear what he has to say.
“I know absolutely nothing about him, so my initial reaction is ambivalence,” said Eliza Hunt, a senior majoring in communication. “However, as CEO of such a prominent corporation he’s bound to have some insightful advice to share with a class of students who are entering the workforce at such a turbulent time.”
Abigail Hardin, a senior majoring in psychology and public relations, said she thinks Ballmer might not have been the best choice for a keynote speaker for graduation.
“I don’t really understand why a company CEO would necessarily be an inspiring speaker,” Hardin said. “He seems like a good guest lecturer for a class, but not for graduation.”
During commencement, USC will also award Ballmer an honorary degree.
Previous renowned commencement speakers included former university President Steven B. Sample in 2010; former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009; Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger in 2008; and astronaut Neil Armstrong in 2005.
The graduation ceremony will consist of one main ceremony for all degree candidates and their families. Additionally, there will be smaller ceremonies for individual colleges and programs throughout the day.
Ballmer was born in 1956 and grew up near Detroit. Ballmer earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from Harvard University.
During Ballmer’s undergraduate years at Harvard, where he lived down the hall from Bill Gates, he managed the football team and worked on the Harvard Crimson newspaper and university literary magazine.
After graduation, Ballmer worked at Procter & Gamble Co. for two years as an assistant product manager.
He joined Microsoft in 1980 after attending Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Though some USC students said they are looking forward to hearing Ballmer’s commencement speech, graduation itself is more exciting for some students.
“I can’t wait to graduate. It’s going to be an exciting time in my life, and I look forward to the future,” said Tarek Chamma, a graduate student studying global communication. “But I don’t know who he is.”
Commencement will take place on Friday, May 13, and an estimated 40,000 guests are expected to attend as 5,000 students receive their degrees, according to the USC Office of Protocol and University Events.