Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education, will deliver the address at University of Richmond’s main commencement ceremony at the Robins Center on May 9.

Duncan, who oversaw notable improvement in the Chicago Public Schools as chief executive officer from 2001-08, was nominated for the country’s top education post by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate on Inauguration Day.

He has stressed that “preparing young people for success in life is not just a moral obligation of society,” but also “an economic imperative.”

A 1987 Harvard University graduate with a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in sociology, Duncan was an academic all-American basketball player during his college days. He went on to play four years of professional basketball in Australia.

Upon returning to the United States, he ran the nonprofit education foundation Ariel Education Initiative from 1992-98 and was part of a team that founded a public elementary school built around a financial literacy curriculum. The school quickly became one of Chicago’s best.

Duncan joined the Chicago Public Schools in 1999 as deputy chief of staff to then-CEO Paul Vallas, before being appointed CEO in June 2001.

Duncan received an honorary degree from Lake Forest College in 2003.

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