Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to speak at NAU commencements

May 10, 2023, 9:13 AM

Bill Gates attends the 2022 TIME100 Gala on June 08, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kam...

Bill Gates attends the 2022 TIME100 Gala on June 08, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME)

(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME)

PHOENIX — Northern Arizona University commencements are this week, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates will be in Flagstaff to speak to some of the graduating students.

He will address the graduating classes for the College of Engineering, Informatics and Applied Sciences and the College of the Environment, Forestry and Natural Sciences.

Gates said in a LinkedIn post on Tuesday that he does not give many commencement speeches, but he saw something unique in NAU’s operations that he clamored for more of in the United States.

“In America, the value of a degree from any given school is traditionally thought about in terms of how prestigious and exclusive the school is,” Gates said. “In general, conversations about higher education tend to focus more on the students’ input than the school’s output. … Ironically, the more students a school accepts and the easier it is to attend and graduate from, the lower that school has traditionally been ranked.

“That’s an inverted incentive if ever one existed. America’s world-class schools are one of our greatest strengths, yet we rank 14th among G20 countries in our percentage of 25-to-34-year-olds with a higher education.”

Gates praised NAU’s student mobility, diversity and services that allow more students finish school.

He singled out the universal admissions program that redirects students who do not get accepted to apply to a community college with the guarantee they will be admitted as a transfer.

Gates also pointed to the Access2Excellence program, which guarantees tuition coverage for undergraduate in-state students with family incomes up to $65,000.

“NAU has also secured millions in scholarships and advising services for community college students who intend to transfer to NAU and helped identify academic pathways that prepare those students for Arizona’s high-skills, high-demand and high-wage jobs,” Gates said.

“… I can’t wait to be in Flagstaff and take it all in up close.”

The commencements for the College of Engineering, Informatics and Applied Sciences and the College of the Environment, Forestry and Natural Sciences are Saturday at 3 p.m.

The ceremonies will air live on Facebook and YouTube.

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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to speak at NAU commencements