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UC Merced Announces Fall Commencement Speakers: Ted Mitchell and Keith Alley

December 1, 2023
Fall Commencement ceremonies will be held December 15 and 16 at The Merced Theatre in downtown Merced.


Ahead of UC Merced's 2023 Fall Commencement, the ceremony keynote speakers have been selected. Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, will speak at the undergraduate ceremonies and Keith Alley, former executive vice chancellor and provost at UC Merced, will speak at the graduate ceremony.

Since 2017, Mitchell has been president of the American Council on Education (ACE) - the major coordinating body for the nation's college and universities that creates policies and practices for higher education learners across the country.

From 2014 to 2017, Mitchell served in under President Barack Obama as the United States Undersecretary of Education, responsible for initiatives that focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, minority serving institutions and federal student aid. During his time with the Department of Education, he and his team reinstated Pell Grants for incarcerated adults, created the College Scorecard and restored millions of dollars to students defrauded by their institutions.

Mitchell has served as the president of Occidental College; vice chancellor and dean at the University of California, Los Angeles; professor and department chair at Dartmouth College; and member of the Stanford University Board of Trustees.

As a K-12 educational leader, Mitchell served as the chief executive officer of the NewSchools Venture Fund - a venture philanthropy that invests in K-12 innovation to support low-income students, schools and communities - and as president of the California State Board of Education.

Mitchell received his bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as his Ph.D., from Stanford, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

"I am honored to address UC Merced's newest graduates at their fall commencement ceremony," said Mitchell. "We celebrate their accomplishments despite all the challenges presented these last few years and look ahead to their promising futures as they enter the next chapter of their lives."

Alley was recruited to UC Merced as a founding faculty member in the School of Natural Sciences and as the vice chancellor for research and dean of graduate studies . He served as interim vice chancellor for administration and executive vice chancellor and provost from 2006 until his retirement in 2012.

Before coming to Merced, Alley was a professor of bioscience and anatomy at Case Western Reserve and Ohio State universities, where his research focused on mechanisms of developmental neuromuscular plasticity.

In his retirement, he has dedicated himself to community volunteer work and traveled extensively to all seven continents. In 2018, he was recognized as a distinguished alumnus of the University of Illinois.

"As a founding faculty member, addressing graduate students is a full-circle moment," said Alley. "I am proud to be a part of their commencement ceremony as they set off, well-equipped, to proudly represent UC Merced in their future endeavors."

Fall Commencement ceremonies will be held December 15 and 16 at The Merced Theatre in downtown Merced.