Darren Walker Is This Year’s Commencement Speaker. So Who Is He?

Anne Cruz
Darren Walker is the president of the Ford Foundation, which works to advance human welfare globally.

For those seniors who skimmed over the commencement emails without reading it, or those who are simply curious, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker will address the class of 2016 at this year’s May 18 commencement ceremony. But who even is this Darren Walker guy?

Well, Walker has been president of the Ford Foundation president since 2013. He had previously worked as Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation and COO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation in Harlem. He has also written about social justice and inequality for the New York Times and was profiled by the New Yorker in January.

Contrary to its name, the Ford Foundation has little to do with cars. It was created in 1936 by Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford. It originally focused on charitable causes in the local Michigan area. Today, the Ford Foundation is an international organization focusing exclusively on funding organizations that combat sources of inequality. The foundation gives $500 million annually in grants and donations from its $12 billion dollar endowment.

A Texas native, Walker went to the University of Texas at Austin for both his undergraduate and law degree. He first worked as a lawyer in New York before pursuing investment banking and eventually found a passion in nonprofit work.

Other honorary doctorate degree recipients include scientist Emmanuelle Charpentier, comedian Billy Crystal, civil rights leader John Lewis and former Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Margaret Marshall.

The “Albert Gallatin Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Society” will also be presented at commencement to Chandrika Tandon, best known for donating $100 million with her husband to the School of Engineering, resulting in the school’s name change.

The All-University Commencement will be held on May 18 at the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York.

Email Anne Cruz at [email protected]

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