Michael R. Bloomberg named Rice University’s 2018 commencement speaker

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg, who served as New York City’s mayor for three consecutive terms, will present the 2018 commencement address at Rice University May 12.

Michael R. Bloomberg

Michael R. Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s public service includes serving as the United Nations’ Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change since 2014 and as the World Health Organization’s Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases since 2016. In 2017 Bloomberg Philanthropies, which encompasses all of Michael Bloomberg’s charitable activities, distributed $702 million.

“I am thrilled that we were able to secure a highly sought-after commencement speaker with the distinction, accomplishment and thoughtfulness of Michael Bloomberg,” President David Leebron said. “His participation will augment this very important occasion in the lives of our graduating students and their families. As a former New Yorker, I can attest to his impact on the city.”

Bloomberg said he is already looking forward to becoming “an honorary Owl.” “It will be an honor to address the graduates of one of America’s premier universities, and I want to thank the students and President Leebron for the invitation,” he said.

An electrical engineering graduate of Johns Hopkins University with an MBA from Harvard Business School, Bloomberg in 1981 founded Innovative Market Systems, which later became Bloomberg LP, to provide real-time data and analysis to the financial services industry. Now a global information and technology company that includes Bloomberg News, Bloomberg LP employs more than 19,000 people in more than 176 locations worldwide. Bloomberg served as CEO of the company for 20 years before being elected New York’s 108th mayor less than two months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He resumed leadership of the company in 2015.

The lifelong philanthropist from Medford, Mass., founded Bloomberg Philanthropies, which employs a unique data-driven approach to global change that grows out of his experiences as an entrepreneur and mayor. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ five areas of focus are public health, environment, arts, government innovation and education. In 2016 the organization funded the American Talent Initiative (ATI), whose founding members included Rice University and 29 other prominent colleges and universities, to substantially expand access and opportunity for talented, low- and moderate-income students at the nation’s colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates. ATI reflects Bloomberg’s commitment to finding practical, collaborative, results-oriented and data-informed solutions to complex challenges.

In 2017 Bloomberg and Carl Pope, former head of the Sierra Club, co-authored “Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses and Citizens Can Save the Planet,” which became a New York Times best-seller. His autobiography is titled “Bloomberg by Bloomberg.”

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.