University Convocation Speaker

Our 2023 Commencement speaker: Dr. Michael Osterholm

Photo of Dr. Michael Osterholm

Michael Osterholm, an international leader in infectious disease research and New York Times bestselling author, will deliver Case Western Reserve University’s commencement address Wednesday, May 17, at the university’s Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center.

Among other noted positions, Osterholm is the Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

“During the pandemic, Michael Osterholm emerged as a leading advocate for the importance of applying science to defeat COVID-19,” President Eric W. Kaler said. “One of the world’s most accomplished infectious disease researchers, he is also among the most dedicated to educating the public. We are honored to have him address our graduates this spring.”

In November 2020, Osterholm was appointed to President Joe Biden's COVID-19 transition advisory board. From June 2018 through May 2019, he served as a Science Envoy for Health Security for the U.S. State Department. He also authored two New York Times bestselling books: Living Terrors: What American Needs to Know to Survive the Coming Bioterrorist Catastrophe (2000) and Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs (2017). Both books were prescient: The first was published a year before the infamous 2001 anthrax attacks; the latter detailed the most pressing infectious disease threats of the time (including coronaviruses and pandemics), while also laying out a strategy to address them.

Osterholm’s work and influence have taken him from Minnesota to the world stage. At the University of Minnesota, he is also Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health; a professor in the Technological Leadership Institute, College of Science and Engineering; and an adjunct professor in the medical school. Osterholm is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the Council of Foreign Relations and was appointed to the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity in 2005. In October 2008, he was appointed to the World Economic Forum Working Group on Pandemics.

He has also served as a special advisor to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and as a representative on the interim management team to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has written more than 315 papers and abstracts, including 21 book chapters and is a frequently invited guest lecturer on the topic of epidemiology of infectious diseases. He serves on the editorial boards of nine journals.

Past Speakers

Dr. Osterholm joins a long list of distinguished speakers including:

  • Justin Bibb, Mayor of Cleveland (Law '18 and MGT '18)
  • Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League
  • William F. Baker (ADL '66, GRS '68 and '72), Emmy Award-winner, past president and CEO of New York Public Television
  • Beth Mooney, KeyCorp Chairman and CEO
  • Toby Cosgrove, MD, past President and CEO of Cleveland Clinic 
  • Fred Gray (LAW ’54, HON ’92), celebrated civil rights attorney 
  • Mark Weinberger (LAW ’87, MGT ’87), EY Global Chairman and CEO
  • Barry Meyer (LAW ’67), Retired Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO
  • Mohamed Ibn Chambas (LAW ’84), Joint Special Representative of the African Union – United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur
  • Katie Couric, journalist and author
  • Peter B. Lewis, Philanthropist and former Chairman of Progressive Insurance
  • Julie Gerberding (WRC ’77, MED ‘81), previous director of the Centers for Disease Control