Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of the cloud-computing company Salesforce.com, will deliver the keynote address at UC Berkeley’s spring 2015 general commencement ceremony, the campus announced Thursday.
Aside from his prominence in the tech field, Benioff also received national attention after being one of several tech industry leaders to denounce a recent Indiana religious-freedom law that many criticized for allowing businesses to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
“In addition to being a successful entrepreneur and respected technology executive, Mr. Benioff has been an outspoken advocate for social justice as well as an innovative and generous philanthropist,” said Chancellor Nicholas Dirks in a statement. “He exemplifies what we at Berkeley hope to instill in our students: the desire to work hard, coupled with the desire to give back and support the greater good.”
Watch Benioff’s 2014 USC commencement address below.
The announcement comes after a rumor circulating through media that said Guy Fieri would serve as this year’s speaker. The campus dispelled the rumor last month, and earlier this week confirmed that President Barack Obama would not speak at the event either, despite a student-led campaign to bring the president to campus.
Speakers are selected and invited every year by the Californians, a student group on campus. The group received significant criticism after its controversial selection of comedian Bill Maher as the commencement speaker for fall 2014. Although the organization voted to rescind the invitation in October, the campus administration chose to let the invitation to Maher stand.
Some students have also criticized the campus for the timing of its announcement of Benioff’s selection, which has come later than in previous years. Last year’s announcement was also made in April, while the 2013 and 2012 announcements were made in February.
Previous speakers include House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, who spoke at the spring 2014 general commencement, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who gave the keynote address in the spring of 2013.
General commencement will be held May 16.
Watch Benioff’s 2007 Haas school MBA commencement address below.