2018 Speaker

2019 Speaker

The Speaker will be announced in Winter or Spring Quarter 2019

Kirk O. Hanson

2018 Commencement Speaker

The outgoing leader of Santa Clara University’s globally renowned Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Kirk O. Hanson, will be the speaker for the Class of 2018 commencement.

Santa Clara’s 167th undergraduate commencement ceremony will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 16, at Santa Clara University’s Stevens Stadium.

Hanson is retiring this year after leading the Ethics Center to become the largest and most active university-based ethics center in the world. With a staff of 26 and more than 70 affiliated faculty scholars, the Ethics Center provides leadership and ethical programming to SCU’s 9,000 students as well as to vast numbers of professionals in business, education, health care, journalism, government, technology, and the nonprofit social sector.

“Santa Clara is blessed to have had the wisdom and vision of Kirk Hanson these past 17 years, and we look forward to his insights at commencement,” said Santa Clara University President Michael E. Engh, S.J. “At a time when our country is enduring a distressing spiral of negativity, his work to make ethics a central issue for leaders of all types helps center us on our shared values.”

Previously a professor for 21 years at Stanford Graduate School of Business, Hanson is a well-known scholar in applied ethics, specializing in how individuals and organizations make ethical choices and create an ethical organizational culture. He writes extensively on managing the ethical and public behavior of corporations, including co-editing a four-volume series titled The Accountable Corporation. Since 1973, he has advised over 100 businesses on the design of corporate ethics programs.

“It has been a privilege to serve Santa Clara University, and to help bring to life the culture of compassion and ethical commitment on campus and in Silicon Valley,” said Hanson. “More than ever, we need graduates—and leaders in business, government, the social sector, and academia—who think deeply about ethical questions and act on them. The health of our society depends on it.”

Hanson holds the John Courtney Murray S.J. University Professorship in Social Ethics at Santa Clara. A graduate of Stanford University and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, he has held graduate fellowships and research appointments at the Yale Divinity School and the Harvard Business School, and received an honorary doctorate in 2013 from the University of Portland. He was honored by the Aspen Institute’s Center for Business Education with a lifetime achievement award for contributions to business and society.

Hanson has held other leadership roles in Silicon Valley, nationally, and internationally as well.

He was the founding president of The Business Enterprise Trust, a national organization created in 1990 by leaders in business, labor, media, and academia to promote exemplary behavior in business organizations. He was the first chairman of the Santa Clara County Political Ethics Commission, and the founding chair of the advisory board of the Center for International Business Ethics in Beijing, China’s first center for the study of business ethics.

He currently serves on the board of directors of the Skoll Community Fund and sits on the advisory board of the Neely Center for Ethical Leadership and Decision Making at the University of Southern California. He twice chaired Stanford University’s Advisory Commission on Investment Responsibility, which advises the Stanford Board of Trustees on social investment issues.

Past Speakers 

  • 2017 - Juan Felipe Herrera, 21st Poet Laureate of the United States
  • 2016 - Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services
  • 2015 - Fr. James Martin, S.J., Jesuit author and commentator
  • 2014 - Brandi Chastain, former player of SCU Women's Soccer and USA National Team