Mark Zuckerberg, 32, who dropped out of Harvard College in 2004 to pursue a career in social-media platforms, will give this year’s commencement speech at the Massachusetts university.
Harvard, ranked among the top five American universities and typically perceived as No. 1, will address students at the May 25 main ceremony held on Harvard Yard, the leafy green space between the school’s older buildings.
Zuckerberg “has profoundly altered the nature of social engagement worldwide,” said Harvard President Drew Faust.
Zuckerberg launched the digital thefacebook.com in February 2004 after a week of coding, according to the Harvard Crimson. The website took parts of a paper directory that Harvard had compiled annually for new students that offered “extensive profile features that allow students to search for others in their courses, social organizations and Houses.”
Harvard was working on a similar project, but, as the Crimson reported, Zuckerberg became impatient with the time it was taking.
“I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week,” he said in 2004.
Zuckerberg had more than 650 registered students when he launched and expected 900 students more by the next morning.
“If you’re in a class where you don’t know anyone and want to ask somebody for help, this is a way to find out the names of people in that class,” said thefacebook.com user Roberto C. Acosta.
Zuckerberg left Harvard shortly after in his sophomore year to pursue the digital version. He is the head of the $350 billion a year social media platform that employees 17,000 people. Nearly 2 billion users around the world are on Facebook.
Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, a 2007 Harvard College graduate, have pledged to donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), according to the Harvard Gazette. The initiative’s mission is to advance human potential and promote equal opportunity.
“Through their work with CZI, they have pledged to spend more than $3 billion over the next decade to work with scientists, doctors, engineers, and universities to cure, prevent, or manage diseases,” the Gazette reported.
Harvard’s commencement exercises and speakers are often legend. Zuckerberg appears in a promotional video about the commencement speech with another Harvard dropout, Bill Gates, 61, who heads Microsoft and is among the richest people on the planet.