Ban Ki-moon, the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations, will deliver the 2023 graduation address at Harvard Kennedy School, Dean Douglas Elmendorf announced today. Ban attended Harvard Kennedy School as an Edward S. Mason Fellow and received his Mid-Career Master of Public Administration degree from the School in 1984. He served as the Kennedy School’s Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow in 2017.

Widely regarded as a dedicated and accomplished public servant, Ban was secretary-general of the United Nations from 2007 to 2016. During his tenure, he addressed many of the world’s most pressing public challenges, including through efforts to combat climate change and poverty and to promote human rights and gender equity. He also orchestrated reforms of the U.N.’s peacekeeping work, strengthened humanitarian efforts, and introduced measures to increase transparency and efficiency. Prior to his leadership of the United Nations, Ban was the Republic of Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, serving from 2004 to 2006. His career in the South Korean government spanned close to four decades, and he undertook a number of senior roles including ambassador to Austria and Slovenia and chief national security adviser to the president.

“I am delighted that our distinguished alumnus Ban Ki-moon will be returning to Harvard Kennedy School to address the Class of 2023 this May,” said Elmendorf. “Our students aspire to careers as public leaders and policymakers, and they can learn a great deal from his example leading the United Nations through a range of global public challenges—as well as from his long career as a dedicated public servant in other capacities.”

“I look forward to returning to the Kennedy School to celebrate the newest graduating class,” said Ban. “As an alumnus, I know how much work and dedication graduating from the School takes—and the elation and pride these graduating students will feel during Commencement Week. I am thrilled that I will be there to celebrate and encourage them as they take their next steps on their journeys.”

Harvard Kennedy School graduation speakers in recent years have included Moldovan President Maia Sandu MC/MPA 2010, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos MC/MPA 1981.

The graduation address, part of the Kennedy School’s Commencement Week activities, will be held on Wednesday, May 24. The events will be livestreamed on the HKS website at