Khan Academy founder to speak at Rice’s 99th commencement Saturday

Khan Academy founder Salman Khan, who last month was named by Time magazine among the 100 Most Influential People in the World, will speak at Rice University’s 99th commencement Saturday.

Salman Khan


The ceremony starts at 8:30 a.m. in the Academic Quad (or Tudor Fieldhouse if it’s raining).

Khan, who has degrees in mathematics, electrical engineering and computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Harvard Business School, quit his job as a hedge fund analyst in 2009 to run the nonprofit Khan Academy full time.

A free online education platform, the academy stemmed from Khan’s use of a notepad on the Internet to tutor a cousin in mathematics in 2004. In 2006 he began posting the tutorials on YouTube so that other family members and friends could access them. As the videos grew in popularity, Khan expanded the subject matter from mathematics to advanced calculus, physics, chemistry, biology and other disciplines. The academy has produced more than 3,200 videos.

The Khan Academy identifies its goal as “changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.” With a library of videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and more than 200 practice exercises, the academy states on its website that “we’re on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.”

Khan was invited to give a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talk in March 2011. Discussing his use of video to reinvent education, Khan called for teachers to consider flipping the traditional classroom practice by assigning students to watch his video lectures at home so they could do the hands-on homework in the classroom with the teacher available to help.

In 2009 the Khan Academy received the Microsoft Tech Award for education. A year later, Google provided $2 million for the creation of more courses and for the translation of the academy’s core library into the world’s most widely spoken languages.

Born and raised in New Orleans to immigrant parents from Barisal, Bangladesh, and Calcutta, India, Khan achieved a perfect score on the math portion of his SAT exam and was valedictorian of his high school class. He has appeared on Fortune Magazine’s “40 Under 40″ list of business’s hottest rising stars and was recently listed at No. 7 on Fast Company’s list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business.

Continuing a tradition that began in 2009, Rice will present an award in the commencement speaker’s name to a graduating student whose work best serves the issues represented by the speaker.

In addition to the degree ceremony, commencement weekend activities will include the Class of 2012 Convocation, the Shepherd School of Music presidential concert and a presidential reception for students, guests, faculty, staff and administration. These events will begin at 8 p.m. Friday in Alice Pratt Brown Hall and will be followed by a fireworks display in the Rice Stadium parking lot.

For a full schedule of commencement events, visit

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