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Commencement 2014

Commencement Speaker

Admiral McRaven
Admiral William H. McRaven
United States Navy
Commander, United States Special Operations Command

Admiral William H. McRaven, United States Navy, commander of the United States Special Operations Command, will deliver the keynote address at the 131st Spring Commencement of The University of Texas at Austin.

“Admiral McRaven is one of the great Americans of our time, a Distinguished Alumnus, and a quintessential model of discipline and leadership,” said UT Austin President Bill Powers. “I’m thrilled that our graduates will have the benefit of his wisdom as they embark on their own journey to change the world.”

A member of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps while at UT Austin, Admiral McRaven went on to gain more than 37 years of experience in the United States Navy. He will address spring graduates and their guests on May 17 during the ceremony held on the university’s Main Mall in front of the UT Tower.

“As a proud Texan and UT alumnus I’ve been back to Texas and UT far fewer times in my Navy career than I would have liked. To return for this event, to have the opportunity to be the keynote speaker for the Spring graduation exercises and share this important occasion with the graduating class is truly an honor.”

In his current role, Admiral McRaven leads approximately 67,000 special operations forces worldwide. He has served at every level within the special operations community and has led global operations throughout the seven seas. Admiral McRaven served as commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2008 until 2011, and commanded Operation Neptune’s Spear, the operation that led to the death of Osama bin Laden.

From a military family with deep Texas roots, Admiral McRaven grew up in San Antonio and has had a long association with the university. He graduated from UT in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. His work was published in the Daily Texan and he was a member of UT’s track team. Admiral McRaven met his wife, Georgeann while they were students at the university and they have been married for more than 35 years.

In 2012, the Texas Exes honored Admiral McRaven with the Distinguished Alumnus Award along with former First Lady Laura Bush and other outstanding alumni. He also returned to campus as keynote speaker at the Texas Access to Justice Commission’s 2012 Champions of Justice Gala Benefiting Veterans, which raised $413,000 toward legal services for low-income Texas veterans.

Admiral Bobby Inman, former Director of the National Security Agency and professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, said McRaven began his training towards a successful career while in UT Austin’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. “Bill McRaven is an enormously talented naval officer,” Inman said. “He is a hero and a warrior.”

A highly decorated officer, Admiral McRaven has been honored with the Bronze Star Medal, the Legion of Merit Medal and the Defense Superior Service Medal, receiving each medal twice. He is also a recipient of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest non-combat related award presented by the United States military and the highest decoration given for joint activity.

Admiral McRaven integrated his journalistic training and special operations experience to author “Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice.” Reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly as a well-organized and deeply researched study, the publication analyzes eight special operations and specifies six essential principles of “spec ops” success: simplicity, security, repetition, surprise, speed and purpose. It is now a textbook used by students studying military science.

One of Admiral McRaven’s stated priorities as a commander is to preserve the physical and mental health of special operations forces and their families. Under his leadership, U.S. Special Operations Command is developing a piece of state of the art equipment commonly referred to as the “Iron Man suit.”

The endeavor is part of the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) program and fosters collaboration among corporations, government agencies, universities and scientists to redefine combat suit capabilities. The goal is to give operators lighter, more efficient full-body protection and beyond-human strength.

“When I began at UT in 1973, the thought of becoming a distinguished alumni never crossed my mind. But, if there is a lesson to be learned from me being invited to speak at this commencement, it is that the University is not only about the strength of your GPA, your class standing or your accomplishments on the field—the strength of this University is about how it prepares you for life.”