“Oprah Winfrey, who has consistently used her success as a talk show host and media entrepreneur to promote education, civic engagement, and charitable works, will be the principal speaker at the Afternoon Exercises of Harvard’s 362nd Commencement.
“Oprah’s journey from her grandmother’s Mississippi farm to becoming one of the world’s most admired women is one of the great American success stories,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “She has used her extraordinary influence and reach as a force for good in the world, with a constant focus on the importance of educational opportunity and the virtues of serving others.”
Winfrey’s nationally syndicated television show ran for more than two decades, drawing an audience of more than 40 million viewers a week in the United States and reaching 150 countries around the world. She has risen to become one of the world’s leading media executives through her production company, Harpo Studios, the magazine “O, The Oprah Magazine,” and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, which debuted in 2011.
She has launched and led a wide array of educational, civic, and charitable pursuits. The book club bearing her name has stimulated reading worldwide and featured many authors who might otherwise have been overlooked. Her advocacy spurred the 1993 passage of federal legislation, known as the “Oprah Bill,” to establish a national database of convicted child abusers. Oprah’s Angel Network, a public charity formed in 1998, raised funds to establish dozen of schools, to support women’s shelters, to build youth centers, and to provide relief after Hurricane Katrina, among other projects.