Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, one of Harvard’s most famous dropouts, will be returning to Cambridge to deliver this year’s commencement speech, 12 years after he dropped out of the university. Harvard announced that Zuckerberg will address graduates at the 336th commencement ceremony on 25 May.
“Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership has profoundly altered the nature of social engagement worldwide,” Harvard president Drew Faust said in a statement. “Few inventions in modern times can rival Facebook in its far-reaching impact on how people around the globe interact with one another.”
Zuckerberg founded Facebook, then dubbed “thefacebook.com”, with a group of friends while he was a sophomore at Harvard back in 2004. He eventually moved to Palo Alto, California, to focus his efforts on the social media start-up and dropped out of the university indefinitely in 2005.
Commencement speakers are usually presented with an honorary degree from the university at the ceremony.
In a video posted on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg jokes with Microsoft co-founder and fellow famous Harvard dropout Bill Gates discussing his upcoming speech at the Ivy-League institution and asking him for “advice”.
“They know we didn’t actually graduate, right?” Zuckerberg tells Gates in the video.
“Oh, that is the best part,” Gates responds. “They actually give you a degree. You just put that degree on your resume and it looks great.” Thirty years after dropping out, Gates also returned to Harvard as a commencement speaker in 2007 – the same year that Zuckerberg’s wife Priscilla Chan graduated from the university.
In a comment on Zuckerberg’s post, Gates wrote: “Always happy to help, Mark. Good luck on your speech. Hope the honorary degree helps you land your dream job.”
With more than 17,000 employees and over 1.9 billion users across the globe, Facebook is currently worth almost $400bn (£328bn) as one of the most powerful and influential technology companies in the world. Last year, Forbes named Zuckerberg one of the top 10 “World’s Most Powerful People”.
Previous Harvard commencement speakers include Steven Spielberg, Michael Bloomberg, Oprah Winfrey and J K Rowling.
“Harvard’s president casually reminded me that the Marshall Plan to rebuild the world after WWII was announced at Harvard Commencement,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. “No pressure