Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of the United States Special Operations Command who is best known for having planned and directed the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, will deliver the keynote address at The University of Texas at Austin’s 131st Spring Commencement on May 17.
McRaven, an alumnus of the university who was a member of its Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), will address about 8,000 spring graduates and their guests during the 8 p.m. ceremony on the university’s Main Mall.
McRaven has gained more than 37 years of experience in the Navy since he graduated from the university in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. He has served at every level within the special operations community and has led global operations throughout the world. He now commands about 67,000 special operation forces worldwide.
Under McRaven’s leadership, U.S. Special Operations Command is developing a piece of state-of-the-art equipment commonly referred to as the “Iron Man suit,” designed to redefine combat suit capabilities.
“Admiral McRaven is one of the great Americans of our time, a Distinguished Alumnus and a quintessential model of discipline and leadership,” said UT Austin President Bill Powers, a Navy veteran himself.
“I’m thrilled that our graduates will have the benefit of his wisdom as they embark on their own journey,” Powers said.
Adm. Bobby Inman, a professor at The University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs and a former director of the National Security Agency, described McRaven as “an enormously talented naval officer.”
“He is a hero and a warrior,” Inman said.
“When I began at UT in 1973, the thought of becoming a Distinguished Alumnus never crossed my mind,” said McRaven, who received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award from the Texas Exes in 2012 along with former first lady Laura Bush and other outstanding alumni.
“But if there is a lesson to be learned from me being invited to speak at this commencement, it is that the university is not only about the strength of your GPA, your class standing or your accomplishments on the field the strength of this university is about how it prepares you for life.”
McRaven participated in the university’s track program and met his wife of more than 30 years at the university. In 2012, he was keynote speaker at the Texas Access to Justice Commission’s Champions of Justice Gala Benefiting Veterans, which raised $413,000 toward legal services for low-income Texas veterans.
McRaven integrated his journalistic training and naval experience to author “Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice,” a book used by students of the military arts.