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2023 commencement speaker named

Tim Shriver, Special Olympics international chair and Dignity Index co-creator,  will give the keynote address for the University of Utah’s 2023 general campus-wide commencement.

U President Taylor Randall and Taylor VanderToolen, president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU), announced the commencement speaker at the Feb. 14 Board of Trustees meeting.

Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute Public Impact Scholar, and co-creator of the Dignity Index.

Shriver, a Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute Public Impact Scholar and leader of the Social and Emotional Learning movement, is uniquely qualified to speak to current college students through a social awareness lens, Randall said.

“With all the polarization and vitriol that seems to divide us, Tim Shriver is leading the effort to bridge that gap,” Randall said. “From his years of work with Special Olympics to the new Dignity Index Utah Demonstration Project, Tim is actively creating pathways that bring us together as Americans. I believe that message will resonate with this socially conscious class of graduates.”

The general commencement is scheduled for Thursday, May 4 at 6 p.m. at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Shriver leads the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, representing 6 million Special Olympics athletes in more than 200 countries—promoting health, education and a more unified world through the joy of sports. Special Olympics was founded by his mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, in 1968. Shriver joined Special Olympics in 1996.

A former teacher, Shriver has led a field of study that focuses on the social and emotional factors in learning. He co-founded and currently chairs the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading school reform organization in the field of social and emotional learning.

In 2018, Shriver founded UNITE, a think tank of national leaders working to “ease divisions, prevent violence and solve problems in our country.” UNITE launched the Dignity Index Utah Demonstration Project last fall—the first public effort to refine the Dignity Index, a social science tool designed to show the contempt or dignity in the language people use when they disagree.

“I’m thrilled to have been invited to join the Class of 2023,” noted Shriver. “This is a generation that understands the urgency of choosing to include, of easing divisions and of solving our country’s most pressing problems. I can’t wait to be a part of the movement they are creating to unite our country in common purpose.”

Shriver earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University, a master’s degree from Catholic University and a doctorate in education from the University of Connecticut. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, co-chairman of the National Commission on Social and Emotional Learning and a co-founder of Lovin’ Scoopful Ice Cream Company. He has produced six films, authored the New York Times bestselling book “Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most” and has written for dozens of newspapers and magazines.