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Tufts 2002 Commencement Speakers

Tufts 2002 Commencement SpeakersAfter founding one of the most successful ventures on the Internet, Tufts graduates Pamela and Pierre Omidyar are focused on using philanthropy to strengthen community and activism.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.15.02] eBay founder and Internet pioneer Pierre Omidyar will deliver the annual commencement address at Tufts along with his wife Pamela Kerr Omidyar, University officials today announced. The pair of Tufts graduates will join former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, humorist Roy Blount and a host of accomplished Tufts graduates for special graduation ceremonies marking the University's 150th anniversary.

"Pioneers and philanthropists, Pam and Pierre Omidyar have dedicated their lives to building and strengthening community through innovation, technology and activism," said Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow, who will preside over his first commencement ceremonies at Tufts on May 19. "At Tufts, we believe very strongly in these ideals and are proud to see how effectively graduates like the Omidyars have incorporated them into their personal and professional lives."

Pierre Omidyar, a 1988 Tufts graduate and computer science major, pioneered online person-to-person trading by creating and developing eBay -- a web-based community in which buyers and sellers are brought together in an auction-style format to trade personal items.

Now a multi-million dollar corporation, eBay is the world's largest online marketplace and includes 42.4 million registered users who perform $5 billion in transactions each year.

In a letter posted to the eBay community in July 1998, Pierre Omidyar described the philosophy that has guided his success.

"Personally, I have always believed in helping people to become the best they can be," Omidyar wrote in the letter. "All of us at eBay share this belief as we strive to create a place where people are not only empowered to do business in a trusting environment, but they are also respected for what they contribute to the community."

In 2000, Pierre and Pam invested $10 million in their alma mater to create another community built on the ethic of citizenship, helping to found Tufts' University College of Citizenship and Public Service.

The University-wide initiative is focused on ensuring that students graduate from Tufts prepared to be committed public citizens and leaders who take an active role in building stronger communities and societies.

"Pam and I want to make sure that in addition to a great education, Tufts students graduate with a 'personalized tool kit,' enabling them to dissect complex societal problems, ferret out their root causes and then mobilize the resources to solve them," Pierre Omidyar said.

"Wešre excited about supporting an environment that encourages experimentation and risk-taking so students and faculty can find and follow their civic passions to make a lifelong, positive difference in our society," said Pam Omidyar -- who graduated from Tufts in 1989 with a bachelor's degree in biology.

Bacow, who noted that the Omidyars recently received the University's Light on the Hill Award, praised the duo's work through their charitable foundation to expand and strengthen the roles of community and activism in the U.S. and around the world.

"Together Pierre and Pam have brought new focus and attention to education for active citizenship," Bacow said. "They are committed to making the world a better place, and they are willing to take risks to make it happen. They are wonderful exemplars of the kinds of alumni Tufts is proud to call its own."

Since the University will celebrate its 150th anniversary during Commencement, the Omidyars will be joined by several honorary degree recipients with close ties to Tufts, including Tufts graduates Roderick MacKinnon, Katherine Haley Will and Eugene Fama, as well as Tufts president emeritus John DiBiaggio, and Rev. William Sinkford, the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, which played a key role in the founding of the University in 1852.

Keynote speakers for the University's professional schools include:

* Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- who will address graduates of Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
* Humorist Roy Blount --who will deliver the keynote at Tufts' School of Veterinary Medicine,
* Neurobiologist Roderick MacKinnon -- who will address the Medical and Sackler School graduates
* Dr. Richard Valachovic -- executive director of the American Dental Education Association, who will address graduates of Tufts' Dental School.

› Click Here for information on the keynote speaker
› Click Here for information on honorary degree recipients
› Click Here for information on keynote speakers for Tufts' professional schools
› Click Here for Tufts' Commencement website

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