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Previous Commencements

Commencement Recap - 2020

In the spring of 2020, to help keep our community healthy and safe, all Economics Commencement celebrations were cancelled. Though we were saddened that we could not physically come together during this special time for graduating seniors and their loved ones, we were still excited to celebrate in a virtual and socially-distant way!

Please visit our special 2020 Graduation Virtual Celebration page to recognize the graduates of 2020 from our undergraduate, PhD, and Masters programs, as well as listen to words of support and wisdom from our faculty and featured speaker, John Denniston, in special commencement video messages. 

The Undergraduate Commencement Featured Speaker for 2020 was John Denniston, a Co-Founder and the Executive Chairman of Shared-X. Shared-X is an agriculture impact company aiming to generate financial, social and environmental returns in emerging countries. At its core, Shared-X collapses the agricultural “yield gap” by deploying advanced, sustainable farming techniques.  

In January 2020, Shared-X was named one of the Top 100 Global Impact Companies by Real Leaders, an impact organization. Shared-X was previously named one of the Top 200 Global Impact Solutions in a MacArthur Foundation competition, and a Top 250 Game-Changing Company by Global Silicon Valley.

John was previously a Senior Partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, where he co-founded and co-ran the firm's $1 billion Green Growth Fund. KPCB’s Green Growth Fund invests in sustainability companies in their growth stage. 

Prior to Kleiner Perkins, John was a Managing Director and Head of Technology Investment Banking for the Western United States at Salomon Smith Barney. Earlier in his career, John was a Partner with a large California-based law firm, where he was Head of the firm’s Venture Capital practice, and Co-Head of its Information Technology practice group.

John earned two degrees from the University of Michigan: B.A. in economics, and J.D.

Commencement Recap - May 3, 2019

Did you miss the Undergraduate or Graduate Commencement Ceremonies? No Worries!

The Featured Speaker for the Undergraduate Economics Commencement was Ms. Mary Ellen Coe, President, Google Customer Solutions. In her role, Mary Ellen oversees the global ads business for mid-market and small businesses, serving millions of customers and thousands of partners worldwide. Her team helps businesses get online and grow, focusing on sales and operations for this high-growth segment as well as the acquisition of new advertisers and channel partners for Google Ads.

Prior to joining Google in 2012, Mary Ellen was a Partner with McKinsey & Company for 12 years, where she advised leading consumer, media and tech companies, and led the Consumer Marketing and Sales practice in North America. Earlier in her career, she spent 11 years in marketing and brand strategy, helping leading brands expand their global reach. Mary Ellen completed her BA from the U-M in 1989.

Mary Ellen is a member of the advisory board of the Ross Business School at the University of Michigan and will join Merck’s Board of Directors in March 2019. She served on the board of Whole Foods, and was involved in stewarding the company through the acquisition by Amazon. She resides in Los Altos Hills, California with her husband and two daughters.

Commencement Recap - April 27, 2018


The Featured Speaker for the Economics Commencement Ceremony was Ms. Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, who joined the ceremony by telephone due to last minute logistical problems. Ms. Songwe has a Bachelor Degree in Economics and Political Science from University of Michigan (1996). She also holds a PhD in Mathematical Economics from the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics and a Master of Arts in Law and Economics and a Diplome d'etudes approfondies in Economic Science and Politics from the Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium.  

Find out more about Ms. Songwe here!