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Hayes Barnard Named Commencement Speaker

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Hayes Barnard Headshot[37][86]
Hayes Barnard will deliver the university-wide keynote address to UT Austin's 2023 graduating class.

AUSTIN, Texas — A pioneer in the technology sector who is known for using the tools of business and technology to help people and communities in need around the world, Hayes Barnard will deliver the keynote address at The University of Texas at Austin’s 140th Spring Commencement on May 6. The ceremony is expected to draw 50,000 attendees and will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

“More than simply an extraordinary entrepreneur, Hayes has shown that good business can also be good for society. By bringing together talented people, innovative ideas and a steadfast conviction to bettering lives, Hayes has helped create access to sustainable energy and water, and opportunities for people who need them the most,” said UT Austin President Jay Hartzell. “Hayes embodies the university’s core purpose, to transform lives for the benefit of society, and we are fortunate to count Hayes among the world-changing innovators who now call Austin home. We are grateful for the ways he has engaged with our students and faculty to address important problems, and for the insights and perspective he will share with our graduates and guests in May.”

Barnard is an entrepreneur, business owner and philanthropist. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of GoodLeap, a financial technology company focused on sustainability. The company has received numerous awards and recognition as one of the most impactful, forward-thinking organizations helping people take control of their energy needs and reducing carbon emissions.

He is also the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of GivePower, a nonprofit providing clean electricity and safe drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people in underserved communities around the world. GivePower partners with the university on three programs where students work through real-world engineering challenges within a solar water farm. They analyze problems and explore solutions, both advancing the technology and providing students with experiences similar to what they will face in a working environment.

“I’ve been inspired by the innovation in Austin and it’s why I moved here with my family,” Barnard said. “It’s clear to me The University of Texas at Austin is central to this dynamic environment. The diversity of thought and passion to change the world coming from this school are some of the many reasons I’m so honored to be speaking on this momentous occasion.”

Barnard was an only-child raised by a single mother in the suburb of Creve Coeur, Missouri, who was inspired by his mother Dede’s relentless positivity. His philanthropic endeavors have had global impact, deploying clean energy solutions to more than 700,000 people across 24 countries. GivePower was also awarded the Global Water Award in Dubai in 2020 and the country of Kenya’s Energy Globe Award in 2021 for its life-saving Solar Water Farm technology, which provides clean water access for people in critical need across the developing world. Every purchase from the GoodLeap platform supports the GivePower Foundation, an independent 501C nonprofit that uses microgrid solar technology to provide fresh water, education, health care and economic opportunities to communities in need around the world.

He graduated from the University of Missouri with a B.A. in business management and marketing. He lives in Austin with his wife, Jessica, and their three children.

The university-wide commencement ceremony takes place after all the school and college-specific convocations. The deans of each college and school will recognize graduates as a group. The ceremony will also include the conferring of degrees by the president, the traditional lighting of the Tower in orange to honor graduates, and a fireworks display.

For more information, visit the 2023 commencement website.