Twitter co-founder to deliver commencement address

Ev Williams | University Communications
Ev Williams | University Communications

Internet entrepreneur Ev Williams won't have to worry about a character count when he offers advice to May graduates at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Williams, co-founder and former CEO of Twitter and founder and CEO of Medium, will deliver the undergraduate commencement address at Nebraska May 6 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Drive. The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m., with doors opening at 7:30 a.m.

Williams, a Nebraska native, has been recognized as one of Inc. Magazine's Entrepreneurs of the Decade, one of Time's 100 most influential people in the world and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

He grew up on a farm outside Clarks and moved to Columbus during his senior year of high school, graduating from Columbus High in 1990. He entered the university that fall, where he joined Farmhouse fraternity. He was enrolled at the university through his sophomore year.

In addition to delivering the address, Williams will receive an honorary doctoral degree.

Williams started his first internet company in Lincoln in 1994, co-founding Pyra Labs to make project-management software. A note-taking feature spun off as Blogger, one of the first applications for creating and managing weblogs. Pyra was acquired by Google in 2003 and Williams left Google in October 2004 to co-found Odeo and then Obvious Corp.

In 2006, Williams co-founded the social networking and micro-blogging service Twitter with Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass and Biz Stone. Twitter quickly gained popularity and as of 2016 had more than 319 million monthly active users. Williams was the company's CEO from 2008 to 2010 and he remains on the board of directors. He created the publishing platform Medium in 2012. Williams lives in San Francisco with his wife, Sara, and their two sons.

Pinnacle Bank Arena also will host a ceremony for students earning graduate and professional degrees at 3 p.m. May 5, with doors opening at 1 p.m. The College of Law will conduct a commencement ceremony at 3 p.m. May 6 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St. Doors will open at 2 p.m.

Helen Raikes, Willa Cather Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies at Nebraska, will deliver the address at the graduate and professional degrees ceremony. Preeta Bansal, president of Social Emergence Corp. and lecturer in the MIT Media Lab, will address the law graduates.

Raikes studies early childhood education, largely focusing on using research to improve outcomes and opportunities for low-income children before school begins and optimizing growth trajectories of children's early emotional, language and physiological development. Her current research projects include evaluation of the Lincoln Educare program and the Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success home-visiting program in rural American communities. She has received awards for research, teaching and mentoring locally and nationally and is the author of two books and over a hundred scholarly articles. Raikes is a frequent presenter and adviser to the U.S. government for early childhood, Head Start and child care research projects. Recently, she completed a cross-cultural study of low-income children's self-regulation with collaborators in Ankara involving over 20 graduate students at Nebraska and universities in Turkey. She is involved in projects in Colombia, Zambia and other areas in the quest to better understand optimal environments for young children. She was married to the late Sen. Ronald Raikes, who received the Builders Award at Nebraska in 2010. She has three children: Heather, Abbie and Justin.

A Lincoln native, Bansal was general counsel and senior policy adviser to the federal Office of Management and Budget from 2009 to 2011. Prior to her work in the Obama administration, she was a law partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom in New York City and solicitor general of New York. She has been a member and chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in 1986 and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1989.

More than 3,000 degrees will be awarded May 5 and 6. The ceremonies at Pinnacle Bank Arena will be live streamed here.

The ceremonies are free and open to the public and no tickets are required. Because of security concerns, parcels, handbags and camera bags will be subject to search. There will be open seating in all areas except the arena floor, which will be reserved for graduates, faculty and dignitaries. Handicapped seating will be on the concourse level. Open captioning for people with hearing impairment will be provided through the ribbon screens at the corners of the arena concourse level. For Pinnacle Bank Arena seating charts, click here.

A drop-off area for mobility-restricted guests will be available on the south side of the post office building, 700 R St., directly east of Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Parking, including handicapped parking, is available in garages south of the arena and in the Festival Space parking area off Sun Valley Boulevard. The Festival Space parking area is accessible to the arena via a pedestrian bridge. Limited handicapped parking is available at Gate 4 on the north side of the arena off Pinnacle Arena Drive. Those planning to attend the May 6 ceremony should be mindful that the Historic Haymarket Farmers' Market will be in progress from 6 a.m. to noon in the immediate vicinity of Pinnacle Bank Arena and will affect traffic and parking patterns.

Parking maps are available here.

Guest services and first aid will be on Level 3 at Gate 112.

For more information, click here.

From Nebraska Today