Speakers & Honorary Degree Recipients

Tim Cook, Apple CEO and 2015 University Commencement Speaker

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently announced the next chapter in Apple's story with new service and product categories, including Apple Watch, Apple's most personal device ever and one that instantly captured the world's imagination. He has continued to help improve conditions for workers who make the company's products, advance human rights and increase charitable giving, and he is overseeing a company-wide effort to use 100 percent renewable energy at all Apple facilities.

One of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and the Financial Times' Person of the Year for 2014, Mr. Cook joined Apple in 1998, and prior to being named CEO he served as chief operating officer. Previously, he was an executive at Compaq, now part of Hewlett-Packard Co., Intelligent Electronics and IBM. Mr. Cook earned a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Auburn University and an M.B.A. from Duke University, where he was a Fuqua Scholar.


Richard Ruiz, 2015 Student Speaker

Richard Ruiz

U.S. Marine Captain Richard Ruiz is a graduate student in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. The son of Mexican immigrants, Capt. Ruiz struggled to learn English but persevered. After becoming a husband and father during his senior year of high school, he worked at night to provide for his family. With much hard work, he graduated, joined the Marine Corps and became a decorated officer. In 2005, Capt. Ruiz graduated from Oregon State University, becoming the first in his family to earn a college degree. Following his graduation from GW, Capt. Ruiz will join the U.S. Naval Academy as a company officer and adjunct professor of leadership.

2015 Honorary Degree Recipients

Dr. Carole Watson

Dr. Carole M. Watson, Ph.D. '78

Dr. Watson, an alumna of GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, held various roles at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) across several decades. In 2014, Dr. Watson organized “Standing Together,” an NEH initiative to help Americans understand the experiences of service members as they return to civilian life.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci

Dr. Fauci is an internationally recognized HIV/AIDS researcher and infectious disease expert. He serves as an advisor to the White House and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on global AIDS issues and emerging infectious disease threats. Dr. Fauci has been director of NIAID since 1984 and has lectured at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences multiple times. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2008.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, is the 2015 Commencement speaker.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO

As 2015 University Commencement speaker, Mr. Cook received an honorary doctorate of public service and delivered remarks to an estimated 25,000 graduates and guests at a ceremony like no other in the world on the National Mall.

2015 School Celebration Speakers

College of Professional Studies

  • Marybeth Davies, manager, paralegal program, DuPont 
  • Note: Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) - no individual speaker


Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

  • Speakers include the Dean Ben Vinson III as well as several faculty and students.
  • Note: Corcoran School of the Arts & Design, School of Media and Public Affairs and Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration  - no individual speaker


Elliott School of International Affairs

  • Michael E. Brown, dean, ESIA


Graduate School of Education and Human Development

  • Dorothy Moore, Advisory Board member and professor emerita, GSEHD


Law School

  • Bobby R. Burchfield, J.D. '79, partner, King & Spalding 

Milken Institute School of Public Health

  • Michael Boticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy


School of Business

  • Undergraduate speaker: Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, M.B.A. '87, president, Charles Schwab Foundation; senior vice president, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.; chairman of the board, Schwab Charitable
  • Graduate speaker: Mark R. Shenkman, M.B.A. '67, founder, president and chief investment officer, Shenkman Capital


School of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Kristy Ortiz, B.S. '99, M.S. '01, vice president and managing director, Pace Global


School of Medicine and Health Sciences

  • Vivek Murthy, surgeon general of the United States


School of Nursing

  • Pamela R. Jeffries, incoming dean, School of Nursing