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Nov. 23, 2010

MSU announces December commencement speakers

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr., now an entrepreneur and philanthropist, will be one of three speakers for Michigan State University’s December commencement ceremonies.

Ceremonies will be held Friday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, One Birch Road.

Johnson will speak at the 10 a.m. Dec. 11 ceremony and will receive an honorary doctor of business degree. He will address undergraduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Education, Music and Social Science, as well as undergraduates from the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, James Madison College and the Eli Broad College of Business.

Also at this ceremony, Leonard Slatkin, director of Detroit Symphony Orchestra, will receive an honorary doctorate of fine arts.

Jeff Immelt, the ninth chairman of General Electric Co., will speak at the 2 p.m. Dec. 11 ceremony.  Earning an honorary doctorate of business, he will address undergraduates from the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Natural Science, Nursing and Lyman Briggs College.

And Elinor Ostrom, economic sciences laureate, will speak at the advanced degree ceremony 7 p.m. Dec. 10. She will receive an honorary doctorate of science.

While on campus, she will give the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 10 in the Lincoln Room of the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. The free event is open to the public.

“MSU has a tradition of producing world-class leaders who work every day to change the world in ways big and small,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “From philanthropy to worldwide energy production to advances in science, our speakers exemplify the values and excellence that define the Spartan experience.”

Visit MSU Commencement for more information.

Biographies of commencement speakers and Slatkin follow.

Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Jr.
Johnson is leading the No. 1 brand in urban America as the chairman and chief executive officer of Magic Johnson Enterprises

Formed in 1987, MJE provides products and services that particularly focus on ethnically diverse urban communities through strategic investments, partnerships and endorsements.

Johnson’s business portfolio includes Canyon Johnson Urban Fund, a billion-dollar real estate fund; Yucaipa Johnson, a $500 million private equity fund; SodexoMAGIC, a food and facilities management company; thirteen 24 Hour Fitness Magic Sports Clubs; MAGIC Workforce Solutions, a staffing company; and strategic alliance with Best Buy.

Magic Johnson Enterprises recently ended its successful 12-year partnership with Starbucks, opening more than 100 stores across the country. To date, Johnson has been Starbuck’s only joint-venture partner.

Through MJE, Johnson has bolstered the economy by establishing brand-name businesses in underserved communities, training and hiring local residents, employing local contractors and opening the door for other businesses to find success in diverse communities.

As chairman and founder of the Magic Johnson Foundation Inc., Johnson is dedicated to developing programs and supporting services that address the educational, health and social needs of ethnically diverse urban communities. Founded in 1991, MJF has become one of the most recognizable charitable organizations around the world, having awarded more than $1.1 million to community-based organizations that focus on HIV/AIDS education and prevention.

Johnson is universally known for his 13-year career in the NBA. Before leading the Los Angeles Lakers to five world championships, Johnson led Michigan State to the 1979 NCAA championship against Indiana State University.  His other honors include three most valuable player awards, 12 NBA All-Star games, a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, and induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame twice. Johnson also is vice president of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson is the first African-American to receive the prestigious doctorate of humane letters degree from Mount Sinai Medical School.

Jeff Immelt
Since arriving at GE in 1982, Immelt held several global leadership positions, including roles in GE’s plastics, appliance and medical businesses. He became an officer of GE in 1989 and has served as chairman since 2001.

Barron’s has named Immelt one of the “World’s best CEOs” three times and Fortune magazine named GE “America’s Most Admired Company.”

Immelt sits on the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

Elinor Ostrom 
Ostrom is Distinguished Professor, Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science and senior research director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Political Analysis at Indiana University – Bloomington. She is also the founding director of Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity.

An expert in cognitive science, in 2009 Ostrom became the first woman to receive the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Leonard Slatkin – Honorary doctorate of fine arts
Internationally renowned conductor Slatkin began his critically acclaimed tenure as music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in the 2008-09 season.

In addition to his post at the DSO, Slatkin is the music director of the Orchestre National de Lyon for the 2011-12 season and serves as the principal guest conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. 

Slatkin is also renowned for his historic leadership of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra from 1979 until 1996, where he is now conductor laureate and for his successful three-year tenure as principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. 

One of the most respected directors and conductors in the nation, Slatkin has led almost every major orchestra in the country and countless orchestras overseas.

Slatkin’s more than 100 recordings have been recognized with seven Grammy Awards and more than 60 Grammy Award nominations.

In 2003, Slatkin received the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States government.

Committed to arts education, Slatkin has conducted DSO performances with the MSU Community Music School’s Children’s Choir. In addition, DSO has played – and Slatkin has critiqued – pieces by MSU composition students.


Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.