College Announces 2019 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients

May 1, 2019

Communications Staff

Headshot of woman named Lisa Jackson
Lisa Jackson, a leader in sustainability initiatives, is the 2019 Commencement speaker.
Photo credit: Apple

Apple executive and former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson will be the keynote speaker for the annual Commencement ceremony honoring the Class of 2019.

Commencement exercises will take place Monday, May 27, on Tappan Square, at which time College of Arts and Sciences and Oberlin Conservatory graduates will receive degrees. The annual ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Jackson is vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives at Apple, reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Jackson oversees Apple’s efforts to minimize its impact on the environment by addressing climate change through renewable energy and energy efficiency, using greener materials, and inventing new ways to conserve precious resources. She is also responsible for Apple’s education policy programs, its product accessibility work, and its worldwide government affairs function.

From 2009 to 2013, Jackson served as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Appointed by former President Barack Obama, she focused on reducing greenhouse gases, protecting air and water quality, preventing exposure to toxic contamination, and expanding outreach to communities on environmental issues.

Jackson will be presented by Rumi Shammin, associate professor and chair of environmental studies.

‘‘Lisa Jackson’s work at the EPA focused on climate change, protecting environmental quality, preventing toxic exposure, and expanding community engagement on environmental issues—all of which are central to the priorities of the Environmental Studies Program and the sustainability mission and vision of Oberlin College,’’ Shammin says. “Our graduates are expected to be among the next generation of leaders in addressing these issues, and it will be a great opportunity for them to hear about her journey.”

headshot of woman
Joanne Chory
Photo credit: Salk Institute
headshot of man
Robert Krulwich
Photo credit: Radiolab
Headshot of man
Matthew Fox
Photo credit:

Jackson will receive an honorary doctor of humanities degree. The college will also present honorary degrees to scientific investigator Joanne Chory and broadcast journalist Robert Krulwich ’69.

In addition to Commencement, the college will welcome the return of hundreds of alumni for class reunions and special events as part of Commencement/Reunion Weekend, May 24-27.

The traditional Multifaith Baccalaureate Service features keynote speaker Matthew Fox, a spiritual theologian and Episcopal priest. Fox, founder of the Order of the Sacred Earth, in Vallejo, California, is noted for his activism for gender and eco-justice. His topic, “12 Years, What Now?” regarding the 2019 United Nations Climate report, will serve as an urgent call to action to the Class of 2019.

The service will begin at 1 p.m. in Finney Chapel with an opening performance by Conservatory of Music students.

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