Techiest college commencement speakers of 2015

Tim Cook, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty among the headliners for college commencements

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Commencement speakers

Colleges and universities across the country have begun touting their Class of 2015 commencement speakers, including some of the biggest names in the technology industry. The tech industry has been well represented over the years, with everyone from Steve Jobs (Stanford, 2005) to Bill Gates (Harvard, 2007) sharing words of wisdom. Here’s a look at who will be speaking in 2015. (LOOK BACK at 2014’s top techie commencement speakers)

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Credit: Xerox
Ursala Burns, Xerox CEO, Williams College, June 7

Burns, who began working at Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern, rose to become CEO in 2009, making her the first African-American woman to hold such a position at a Fortune 500 company. Burns is a founding board director of Change the Equation, an organization committed to improving STEM education.

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Credit: Joi Ito/MIT
Megan Smith, United States Chief Technology Officer, MIT, June 5

Smith, who has undergraduate (1986) and master's (1988) degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, was named by President Barack Obama as the chief technology officer of the United States in September. Before that, she was VP of new business development at Google.

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Credit: IBM
Virginia Rometty, IBM CEO, Northwestern University, June 19

Rometty, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and electrical engineering from Northwestern, has been ranked No.1 in Fortune magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” for the last three years. In February, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

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Credit: Apple
Tim Cook, Apple CEO, George Washington University, May 17

Cook’s busy past couple of years have included leading Apple to become the first public company to surpass a market valuation of $700 billion and taking the lead on social justice issues. Cook earned a bachelor in science degree from Auburn University and an MBA from Duke University.

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France Cordova, National Science Foundation director, Pomona College, May 17

Cordova was sworn in as director of the NSF in March 2014 and leads the only government agency charged with advancing all fields of scientific discovery; technological innovation; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. She was NASA's chief scientist, from 1993 to 1996, and was president of Purdue University from 2007-2012. She’s a graduate of Stanford University and the California Institute of Technology.

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George Takei, actor (“Mr. Sulu," original Star Trek TV show), University of California Hastings College of the Law, May 10

While Takei is best known for his 1960s role as Mr. Sulu on the Star Trek TV series, he has gone on to become a well-read author, Broadway actor, social justice activist and social media superstar (8.5 million Facebook likes).

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Kevin Colleran, venture capitalist/Facebook veteran, Babson College, May 16

As one of Facebook’s first 10 employees, Colleran helped the social networking service grow to become one of the world’s most influential global companies. As Facebook’s Global Partnership Lead, he was responsible for managing the advertising relationships with some of the world’s largest advertisers. Colleran left Facebook after a seven-year stint. At Slow Ventures, a venture capital firm Colleran co-founded and now manages, he invests the personal capital of dozens of top technology founders, CEOs, and executives into early-stage companies such as Evernote, Nest, Pinterest, Tumblr and Dropbox. He is also Colleran is also a Venture Partner at General Catalyst Partners, which focuses on Series A and Series B technology investing.

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Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google, Virginia Tech, May 15

The Google executive chairman, formerly the company’s CEO, will be making a return appearance as Virginia Tech’s commencement speaker. He did it back in 1999 while CEO of Novell. Why the connection with the school? His dad used to be head of Virginia Tech’s Department of Economics.