Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus to speak at UCSD graduation

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Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Grameen Bank founder Dr. Muhammad Yunus attends the 2014 Social Good Summit at 92Y on September 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO — UC San Diego’s first campuswide commencement ceremony in 16 years will feature 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus as the keynote speaker, the school announced Thursday.

The Bangladesh-born economist and founder of the global microfinance movement became a Nobel laureate for founding the nonprofit Grameen Bank, which helps poor people escape poverty by providing loans on terms suitable to the clients, and teaching them sound financial principles.

According to UCSD, the Grameen Bank has lent billions of dollars to impoverished people, mostly women, to help them start their own businesses.

“We are honored to have Muhammad Yunus serve as keynote speaker at our All Campus Commencement, as he embodies UC San Diego’s ideals of public service, social mobility and global citizenship,” said Chancellor Pradeep Khosla. “Yunus’s leadership in the microfinance movement has transformed the lives of people around the world, enabling them to reach for their dreams and achieve their goals,” Khosla said.

Yunus has also been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, two of the highest civilian honors in the U.S.

The ceremony is set for June 11 at the RIMAC Field, after which individual colleges will hold their own graduation exercises. School officials said the All Campus Commencement was designed to strengthen the sense of community on campus.

Around 8,000 students will receive degrees at the ceremonies, according to UCSD.