Your Navy

Retired SEAL admiral chosen to deliver MIT’s commencement speech

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — William McRaven, the retired U.S. Navy admiral who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, has been chosen to give the 2020 commencement speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the school announced Friday.

McRaven is scheduled to address graduates of the university in Cambridge at a May 29 ceremony. In a written statement, MIT President L. Rafael Reif praised McRaven for his "integrity, intellectual curiosity, decency, humility and self-discipline."

"A brilliant problem solver with deeply held values and the courage to speak boldly for his principles, he will fit right in at MIT," Reif said.

McRaven was head of U.S. Special Operations Command in 2011 when a team of Navy SEALs killed the al-Qaida leader in Pakistan. He also led the 2009 rescue of Richard Phillips, a ship captain who was captured by Somali pirates and later portrayed by Tom Hanks in a movie.

A former Navy SEAL himself, McRaven retired from the Navy in 2014. A year later he was hired as chancellor of the University of Texas system. He stepped down from the post in 2018 and is now a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin.

In a statement, McRaven said he is honored to address MIT's graduating class.

"More than ever before, the world today needs the great minds of the talented men and women that have learned so much from this magnificent institution," he said. "I hope that my experience, in both the military and academia, will be of some value to them as they head off to make their mark in the world."

McRaven earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas in 1977 and later received a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

MIT’s other recent commencement speakers include former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is now a Democratic presidential candidate, and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer for Facebook.

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