Apple CEO Tim Cook, a graduate of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, will deliver Duke’s commencement address on Sunday, May 13, President Vincent Price announced Saturday.
“I am absolutely delighted that Tim Cook will be returning to campus as this spring’s commencement speaker,” said Price. “Throughout his career, Tim has embodied Duke’s values of innovation and service to society, whether through his contributions to Apple’s groundbreaking technology or his advocacy for social justice. I can imagine no better person, and no bigger Duke fan, to inspire the Class of 2018.”
Cook earned his MBA in 1988 from Duke, where he was a Fuqua Scholar, an honor given only to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class. He received a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering from Auburn University in 1982.
“From the first day I walked onto campus more than 30 years ago, Duke has been a source of inspiration and pride for me -- both professionally and through the deep personal friendships that have endured to this day,” said Cook. “It’s my honor to be returning to salute the class of 2018 as they begin the next chapter of their lives as Duke graduates.”
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Before being named CEO in August 2011, Cook was Apple’s chief operating officer, which made him responsible for all of the company’s worldwide sales and operations, including end-to-end management of Apple’s supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries. He also headed Apple’s Macintosh division and played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace.
Under Cook’s leadership, Apple became the world’s largest and most valuable publicly traded corporation while also being recognized as one of the most innovative.
Cook has been a member of the Duke Board of Trustees since 2015 and is a member of the Facilities and Environment Committee. He has also spoken with students at Fuqua, including a talk where he discussed what he learned at the school that has helped him in the business world.
Duke students applauded Cook’s selection as commencement speaker.
“Tim Cook is a great choice,” said Kavya Sekar, a Master of Public Policy candidate at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. “He’s a great role model for us all — the CEO of one of the most successful tech companies, the first openly gay Fortune 500 leader and a trustee of Duke. I trust that he can teach us to take risks and be true to ourselves.”
Matthew King, a senior majoring in political science, noted Cook’s strong, longstanding ties to Duke.
“Tim Cook is a fantastic pick,” said King. “He cares deeply about Duke, and he’s a Blue Devil through and through. Many of us aspire to be like Tim Cook when we grow up, so what could be better than to hear from him directly?”
In addition to his service at Duke, Cook serves on the boards of directors of Nike and the National Football Foundation. Among his honors are the Newseum’s Free Expression Award (2017), Financial Times’ Person of the Year (2014), Fortune Magazine’s World’s Greatest Leader (2015) and the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award (2015).
Commencement exercises are in Wallace Wade Stadium and are open to the public. More information about Duke’s commencement ceremony is available at: https://commencement.duke.edu/.