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Alumna Brené Brown to Deliver UT Austin Commencement Keynote Address

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Photo by Randal Ford.

AUSTIN, Texas – Internationally acclaimed researcher, author and speaker Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation – Brené Brown Endowed Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work, will deliver the keynote address at The University of Texas at Austin’s 137th spring commencement on May 23.

Brown, BSW ’95, has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy and is the author of five No. 1 New York Times bestsellers: “The Gifts of Imperfection,” “Daring Greatly,” “Rising Strong,” “Braving the Wilderness” and her latest book, “Dare to Lead,” which is the culmination of a seven-year study of courage and leadership.

Brown’s 2010 TED talk – “The Power of Vulnerability” – is one of the top five most viewed TED talks, with more than 45 million views. She is also the first researcher to have a filmed talk on Netflix. “The Call to Courage” special debuted on the streaming service on April 19, 2019.

“Brené Brown is an extraordinary scholar, educator and author, but more than anything, she connects with others on a deeply human level,” said UT President Gregory L. Fenves. “It is a great honor that Dr. Brown has agreed to speak to the Class of 2020 — many of whom have already been inspired and enlightened by reading her bestselling books and watching her acclaimed lectures.”

Brown will address thousands of students, their parents and guests of the university during the 8 p.m. ceremony on UT Austin’s Main Mall. There are approximately 9,000 students eligible to receive their degrees this spring.

When Fenves called Brown to ask whether she would consider giving the 2020 commencement address, she said her initial reaction was fear.

“I wasn’t sure why he was calling,” she said. “When I heard, ‘Please hold for President Fenves,’ I got scared. It was like I was being called into the principal’s office. I thought, Oh, here we go. He’s probably going to say something like, ‘We found out you did not correctly cite APA on one of your papers in 1994. We’re revoking your social work degree.’”

When Fenves explained why he was calling, Brown said she was overcome with emotion.

“I just started crying because my path to UT was long and hard,” Brown said. “The fact that I’ll be giving the commencement address in front of the Tower – at a school that I love and one that I fought to be a part of  – is amazing. I’m deeply honored to be asked to share my story and to be a part of this incredibly important day for the Class of 2020. Horns up.”

For additional information, visit https://commencement.utexas.edu/.