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Admiral William McRaven to deliver MIT commencement address

Admiral William McRaven will deliver the 2020 undergraduate commencement address at MIT.Courtesy of Admiral William H. McRaven

William McRaven, a retired four-star US Navy admiral, will deliver the undergraduate commencement address at Massachusetts Institute of Technology this spring, the school announced Thursday.

The ceremony is scheduled for May 29.

McRaven, who served for nearly four decades in the Navy, was a longtime special forces commander credited with the leadership of the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011. After his retirement from the military he acted as chancellor of the University of Texas system, one of the country’s largest higher education operations, from 2015 to 2018.

“I have come to admire Admiral McRaven’s 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,” school President L. Rafael Reif said in a press release Thursday.


McRaven follows a series of private industry executives as MIT’s commencement speaker. In 2019, Michael Bloomberg spoke to graduates, while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg spoke in 2018, and Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke in 2017.

“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," McRaven said in a release Thursday. "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.”

Peter Bailey-Wells can be reached at peter.bailey-wells@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @pbaileywells.