Azim Premji to speak at MSU commencement

April 14, 2014
Azim Premji

Azim Premji

Azim Premji, global tech company leader and educational philanthropist, will speak at Michigan State University’s spring commencement honoring bachelor’s degree graduates on May 2.

Premji also will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the university. He serves as chairman of Wipro Ltd., an information technology and research and development  company with a presence in 60 countries, and he has made a significant impact on improving education throughout India through the Azim Premji Foundation.

“As Spartans, we work every day to make a difference around the world, so it’s fitting that Azim Premji, an international business executive, will address our graduates as they prepare to be global citizens,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon.

Premji will address graduates during the university-wide baccalaureate commencement program starting at 1 p.m. May 2 at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center (One Birch Road). He also will be visiting Erickson Hall (620 Farm Lane), where he will speak to faculty and students from 3-4:30 p.m. in the Kiva. The student/faculty conversation is primarily for members of the College of Education, the Broad College of Business and the College of Engineering.

The MSU College of Education has been closely involved in the development of Azim Premji University, which opened three years ago and focuses on programs in education and development. In addition, faculty members Punya Mishra and Sonya Gunnings recently received a $2.8 million grant from Wipro to develop a teacher leader program in urban areas focused on math and science.

More about Azim Premji
A graduate in electrical engineering from Stanford University, Premji has been at the helm of Wipro Ltd. since the late 1960s, turning what was then a $2 million hydrogenated cooking fat company into a $7 billion organization. The overall Wipro group revenues are $8 billion.

Premji has been driven by one basic idea: to build an organization deeply committed to values. He believes businesses have a social responsibility not only to employ ethical, fair and ecologically sensitive business practices, but also to actively engage in fundamental societal issues. As such, Wipro is committed to improving education in India and in the United States.

In 2001, Premji established the Azim Premji Foundation, with a vision of building a better society by enhancing quality and equity in India’s public school system. The foundation works in seven states of India, which have more than 300,000 schools. In 2011, the foundation established Azim Premji University.

Throughout the years, Premji has received numerous honors and accolades. Business Week listed him among the top 30 entrepreneurs in world history. Time listed him among the world’s 100 most influential people in April 2004 and again in April 2011, citing his contribution to improving the public education system in India. Premji is the first Indian recipient of the Faraday Medal. The Republic of France bestowed upon him the “Legion of Honor,” and in January 2011 he received Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India.

Read the full news release for information about graduate commencement speaker Norman Augustine and others receiving honorary doctorates from the university this year.