Microsoft CEO to Give Speech At Graduation


The university announced Thursday that Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer will be the commencement speaker for graduation this year.

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.”

Microsoft CEO Steve A. Ballmer will speak at the USC 2011 commencement.

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.

Ballmer with Bill Gates, who he has known since college.

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.

  • Alumnus

    The commencement speaker reflects the milieu of the university. No need to delve into this, or question how this person’s social stature is relevant. Just accept things at face value, live in the moment, and be happy. No need for the disenchantment.

    @Anon, even if your statement is true, why burst the bubble for others?

  • Anon

    Ballmer’s son goes to USC currently. Coincidence?

  • Anonymous

    Hardin, you’re stupid. Steve B has been more successful than you could ever hope or imagine to be. Go back to your Comm homework.

    • Commenting

      Anonymous– you took the words right out of my mouth. whoever the eff this girl is she shows how dumb the comm majors are on the whole. hope you enjoy post-grad life as a housewife. bet you wished you majored in business.

  • I. LOVE. THIS. COMP-ANY

    I hope he gives as “enthusiastic” of a graduation speech as his other normal speeches.

  • I don’t really understand why a company CEO giving speech at graduation.

    • Alumnus

      Then who do you want? Justin Bieber…

  • Commenter

    abigail hardin sounds like a complete idiot