Published: April 6, 2011

Apple co-founder, TIAA-CREF exec to speak at commencement

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Apple Computer Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak and TIAA-CREF top executive Roger Ferguson Jr. will speak at Michigan State University’s commencement Friday, May 6.

Wozniak will address a crowd of likely iPod and iPhone users at the 1 p.m. convocation, which will be held at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, One Birch Road. He will receive an honorary doctorate of engineering. Wozniak’s talk comes on the heels of the recent release of Apple Inc.’s popular iPad 2.

Three others will receive honorary degrees at the ceremony.

Michael and Marian Ilitch, Detroit entrepreneurs and founders of Little Caesars Pizza, will share an honorary doctorate of business. Together, the  couple owns Little Caesars Pizza, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, the Detroit Red Wings, Olympia Entertainment, Olympia Development, Little Caesars Pizza Kits Fundraising Program, Champion Foods and Uptown Entertainment. Additionally, Michael Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers and Marian Ilitch owns the MotorCity Casino Hotel.

In addition, Baldemar Velasquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, will receive an honorary doctorate of humanities for his efforts to improve the work conditions and lives of farm workers.

Ferguson, president and CEO of TIAA-CREF, a leading financial services organization, will speak at the advanced-degree ceremony at 7 p.m. May 6, also held at Breslin. He will receive an honorary doctorate of business.

Tickets are not required for either of the two, free events.
“Technology plays a critical role in the education of our students, so it’s fitting that Steve Wozniak will send our graduates off to careers that have been influenced by his innovations,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “We are also honored to have Roger Ferguson, a global leader in finance and economics, speaking at commencement. His successes will inspire our advanced-degree candidates as they strive to make a difference in the U.S. and around the world.”

This will be MSU’s second green commencement, in which graduation caps and gowns are made from recycled plastic bottles and programs and diplomas are made from recycled paper.

Bios of the speakers are below.

Steve Wozniak
In 1976, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer Inc. – now Apple Inc. – which unveiled its touch-screen computer iPad 2 in March. In addition, Apple manufactures Macintosh personal computers, iPod digital media players and iPhone cell phones.

For his achievements at Apple Computer, Wozniak was awarded the National Medal of Technology by the president in 1985, the highest honor bestowed on America’s leading innovators.

In 2000, Wozniak was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame. He also was awarded the prestigious Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment for designing the first personal computer and then sharing his passion for mathematics and electronics with students and their teachers.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California Berkeley, Wozniak focuses on increasing computer capabilities in schools. He founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and was the founding sponsor of California’s Tech Museum, Silicon Valley Ballet and Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.

Wozniak currently serves as chief scientist for Fusion-IO and is a published author. His television appearances include reality shows, “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

Roger Ferguson Jr.
Roger Ferguson Jr. is president and CEO of TIAA-CREF, a leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields and a Fortune 100 financial services organization with more than $450 billion in combined assets.

Prior to joining TIAA-CREF in April 2008, Ferguson was head of financial services for Swiss Re, chairperson of Swiss Re America Holding Corp. and a member of the company’s executive committee.

He has served as vice chairperson of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve System. Ferguson also was a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee and chaired Federal Reserve Board committees on banking supervision and regulation, payment system policy and reserve bank oversight.

In addition, Ferguson serves on the board of directors of International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. and on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. He is vice chairperson of the Economic Club of New York and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Harvard University Visiting Committee for the Memorial Church and the Group of Thirty.

Ferguson is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the academy’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences. He also sits on President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. 

Holding a bachelor’s degree, juris doctorate and a doctoral degree in economics, all from Harvard University, Ferguson began his career as an attorney at the New York City office of Davis Polk and Wardwell.


Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.