Jack Ma to Deliver Commencement Address to the Class of 2020

Jack Ma
May 22 2020

Philanthropist, entrepreneur, and teacher Jack Ma will deliver the keynote address to the Class of 2020 at NYU Shanghai’s Fourth Commencement on May 29.

Ma, the founder of the global technology company Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation, recorded his message to the Class of 2020 from his offices in Hangzhou. “It is a pleasure and honor, during this extraordinary time and through this unique way, to join this important moment for the graduates of NYU Shanghai,” Ma said.

Ma’s remarks will be delivered at NYU Shanghai’s virtual commencement ceremonies, which will be livestreamed beginning at 20:20 (8:20 p.m.) China Standard Time.

“Jack Ma’s words to this class will no doubt serve as inspiration to our graduates as they pursue their careers and dreams in the future," said NYU Shanghai Chancellor Yu Lizhong.

For his innovative and inspiring achievements in business and philanthropy, particularly his recent leadership in helping communities and countries around the world fight COVID-19, Chancellor Yu Lizhong, Vice Chancellor Jeff Lehman, Provost Joanna Waley-Cohen and Associate Vice Chancellor Ding Shuzhe also presented Ma with the NYU Shanghai Chancellor’s Medal of Honor. 

“The Chancellor’s Medal recognizes Jack Ma’s cosmopolitan spirit and his sustained efforts in the domains of education, sustainability, and philanthropy. We are especially grateful for the support he has provided to New York during the pandemic crisis.” said Vice Chancellor Jeff Lehman.

In 1999, with 17 colleagues working in his Hangzhou apartment, Ma launched Alibaba.com, an English-language website to help Chinese small businesses reach the global marketplace. That single website grew into the Alibaba Group, a global leader in e-commerce, logistics, big data, cloud computing, and entertainment that is transforming the way people live and work.  

Ma stepped down as Alibaba’s Executive Chairman in 2019 to dedicate his time to philanthropic endeavors. He currently serves as a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Advocate, a member of the Board of Trustees of the World Economic Forum, president of the General Association of Zhejiang Entrepreneurs and chairman of the China Entrepreneur Club. He was appointed by the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres as co-chair of the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation in 2018.  

Ma graduated from Hangzhou Normal University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English education and worked for six years as an English teacher before becoming an entrepreneur.