Gallaudet University confirmed Saturday that Apple CEO Tim Cook agreed to deliver its commencement address next month. Cook responded to a student’s invitation via Twitter to speak at the school’s 152nd Commencement on May 13.
Gallaudet, located in Washington, D.C., calls itself the only university in the world where Deaf, deaf-blind and hard-of-hearing students live and learn bilingually in American Sign Language and English.
Apple and the university have close ties, with Gallaudet serving as an Apple Campus. Incoming students are equipped with a MacBook Pro or an iPad Pro. And the school praised Apple TV+ Oscar-winning film CODA for its realistic portrayal of a deaf family.
Following CODA, a fitting commencement speaking gig for Tim Cook
Cook will speak alongside Gallaudet University student Molly Feanny, who will serve the undergraduate speaker at the commencement. The university shared a video of her inviting Cook to speak on Twitter.
In the tweeted invitation, Feanny uses American Sign Language accompanied by subtitles and a voiceover. She called Cook “an amazing visionary and leader,” and said that the university “would be honored to have you come and speak to us here.”
Thanks so much Molly, I’d be honored! See you there! https://t.co/eSmy1uyFu7
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 16, 2022
“I am beyond proud and honored to share that Tim Cook will be our 2022 commencement speaker,” said Roberta J. Cordano, president of Gallaudet University, in a press release.
Tim is a remarkable visionary, truly one of the great CEOs of our time who, without question, will leave a lasting imprint for generations to come. As the leader of one of the most admired brands in the world, Tim has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusion, representation and accessibility — values that matter deeply to our Gallaudet community and so many other underrepresented groups.
In the wake of CODA’s Best Picture Oscar win
Confirmation of Cook’s speaking engagement comes after Apple TV+ film CODA won an Academy Award for Best Picture. It became the first film distributed by a streaming service to do so. It also won Best Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur as well as Best Adapted Screenplay.
The film revolves around a young woman named Ruby, the sole hearing member of a Deaf family. Using sign language, Ruby interprets for her parents and brother while working for her family’s struggling fishing business in Gloucester, Massachusetts. She must reconcile her dream to be a singer with her responsibilities to the family.
Cordano said the film is “one the most authentic representations of deaf people and their families in the history of cinema.” Apple held several screenings at Gallaudet prior to the Oscar win.
After two years of holding virtual graduations due to COVID-19 restrictions, Gallaudet will stage its 152nd undergraduate commencement ceremony in-person on campus on Friday, May 13, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET.