Journalist and author Bina Venkataraman will join USC graduates as commencement speaker on May 14, the university announced Thursday.
Venkataraman, formerly a science journalist for The New York Times and The Boston Globe, is now the editorial page editor of the Globe, leading the paper’s editorial board and overseeing its opinion section. She is also a fellow at New America.
Her 2019 book, The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age, is a groundbreaking exploration of how to make long-term decisions and better plan for the future of ourselves, our families and our society. The book has been named a top business book and best book of the year by several publications.
Venkataraman grew up in Ohio and now lives in greater Boston. An alumna of Brown University and the Harvard Kennedy School, she was named a Global Young Leader by the French-American Foundation in 2015. Previously, she served as a senior advisor for climate change innovation in the Obama White House, where she helped prepare for climate disasters and advised on responding to the Ebola epidemic, promoting patient access to cancer treatments, and reforming science education in public schools. She also served as director of Global Policy Initiatives at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.
“To a generation facing unprecedented challenges, Bina is a refreshing voice and a compass for charting an exciting and meaningful life,” USC President Carol Folt said in a news release. “The decades ahead call for a different approach to a world mired by climate change and conflict. Bina offers a way forward; she emboldens people to see their power amid crisis.”
Venkataraman looks forward to speaking to thousands of USC graduates from both the classes of 2020 and 2021 on May 14. “It’s an honor to be invited to give the commencement address at USC this year not just because it’s an extraordinary community, but because it is an extraordinary moment in history,” she wrote in an email to Annenberg Media.
“This year’s graduates leave USC in a world that has been remade since they arrived,” she wrote. “What I hope to impart is what I’ve learned about charting a path and facing the future amid uncertainty and crisis.”
This year’s graduation ceremonies will take place twice a day from May 14 through May 21. Students can attend either in person or online on their school’s designated dates. The ceremonies will be broadcast online for those who are unable to attend.
More information about the ceremony can be found on the USC Commencement website.