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HP CEO Will Speak At Commencement

Sloan Grad Carly Fiorina Named Fortune’s Most Powerful American Businesswoman

By Kevin R. Lang

MIT has traded a pair of wisecracking mechanics for a Fortune 500 executive: Hewlett-Packard President and CEO Carly Fiorina will address the Class of 2000 at June’s commencement.

Though never an MIT undergraduate, Fiorina received a Master of Science degree from the Sloan School of Management in 1989.

In both 1998 and 1999, Fiorina was named Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Woman in American Business.”

“Leadership is a matter of vision, wisdom, organization, stamina and charisma, and Carly Fiorina brings all this and more to her role as CEO of Hewlett-Packard,” said MIT President Charles M. Vest.

“We look to our commencement speakers not only to address the important issues, opportunities and responsibilities that our graduates will face, but to serve as models of the kind of leaders we hope they will become,” Vest said. “I am delighted that Carly has accepted our invitation.”

Fiorina earned masters at Sloan

After graduating from Stanford University in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in medieval history and philosophy, Fiorina attended a year of law school before receiving her MBA from University of Maryland in 1980. She later earned a master of science degree from the Sloan School of Management in 1989.

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Eric Grimson, who served as chair of this year’s Commencement Committee, was pleased that Fiorina had accepted MIT’s invitation to speak at commencement.

“Ms. Fiorina’s vision that Hewlett-Packard’s future be defined by inventiveness should resonate with our graduates,” Grimson said.

2000 president supports selection

Class of 2000 President Hugo B. Barra ’00 was excited by the prospect of Fiorina addressing the commencement crowd.

“I think we need a more real-world type of message,” Barra said. He cited recent addresses by politicians including the President and Vice President as being less relevant to students. “I’m not sure the insights given by politicians are things of particular impact for the class.”

“I think we expect to see a lot of creativity coming out of her speech in terms of advice,” Barra said.

Barra thought last year’s address by Tom and Ray Magliozzi lacked relevance. “I think perhaps last year’s speech ... tried to deliver a ‘get a life’ type of message for MIT students, and I think we really don’t need to hear that.”

Barra also noted that Fiorina was “unanimously the committee’s top choice,” especially since she is a Sloan graduate.

Departure from recent speakers

Last year, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, “Click and Clack” of National Public Radio’s “Car Talk,” addressed the Class of 1999. Tom Magliozzi graduated in 1958 with a degree in economics while his brother took a humanities degree in 1972.

Recent commencement speakers have also included President Clinton, AIDS pioneer Dr. David Ho , United Nations Secretary General Koffi A. Annan ’72, and Vice President Gore.

Fiorina will be the fourth woman to speak at commencement. Previous speakers included former University of Chicago President Hanna Gray, former congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, and CEO of the Washington Post Company Katherine Graham.

Fiorina climbed corporate ladder

Last summer, Fiorina became President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the world’s second-largest computer maker. Four years ago, she led Lucent Technologies’ initial public offering and subsequent spin-off from AT&T, after which she became president of Lucent’s global services group. She originally joined Lucent as an account executive.

Fiorina currently serves on the boards of directors of the Kellogg Company, Merck and Co. Inc., and the U.S. China Board of Trade.