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Eric GreitensEric Greitens

Eric Greitens, humanitarian, award-winning author, and decorated Navy SEAL officer, will deliver Tufts University’s commencement address on Sunday, May 20, 2012.

Greitens was born and raised in Missouri. After graduating from Duke University, he was selected as a Rhodes and a Truman Scholar. He earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Oxford. His doctoral thesis, “Children First,” investigated how international humanitarian organizations can best serve war-affected children.

Greitens’ award-winning book of photographs and essays, Strength and Compassion, grew from his humanitarian work as a volunteer, documentary photographer and researcher in Albania, Bolivia, Cambodia, Croatia, the Gaza Strip, India, Mexico and Rwanda. The book was honored as ForeWord Magazine’s Photography Book of the Year and as the Grand Prize Winner in the 2009 New York Book Festival. In May 2011, Greitens’ second book, The Heart & the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, became a New York Times best seller.

As a Navy SEAL officer, Greitens was deployed four times to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Southeast Asia. His assignments included serving as the commander of a Joint Special Operations Task Unit, commander of a Mark V Special Operations Craft Detachment and as commander of an al Qaeda Targeting Cell. For his service, Greitens received the Navy Achievement Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Commendation Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

After returning from Iraq, Greitens donated his combat pay to found The Mission Continues, a national non-profit organization that challenges veterans to serve and lead in communities across America through six-month fellowships at community non-profit organizations. In 2008, Greitens received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for these extraordinary efforts. His work as CEO of The Mission Continues earned him a fellowship from The Draper Richards Foundation and recognition as one of the five leading social entrepreneurs in America by the Manhattan Institute for Social Entrepreneurship.

“As a scholar, author, civic leader and Navy SEAL, Eric Greitens has demonstrated how an individual passion for service can be a powerful force for good with an impact far beyond its original sphere,” said Tufts University President Anthony P. Monaco. “We seek commencement speakers whose lives will inspire our graduates and model achievement for our entire community. Eric Greitens exemplifies that. I am particularly pleased that his name was among those suggested by our students to the Honorary Degree Committee of the Board of Trustees.”

At commencement, to be held at 9 a.m. on The Green on Tufts’ Medford/Somerville campus, Greitens will receive an honorary doctorate. Four other distinguished men and women will also receive honorary doctorates:


Lawrence S. Bacow, president emeritus of Tufts University; president-in-residence in the higher education program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education; innovator in education recognized for advocating broad-based access to higher education, need-based financial aid, and increased civic engagement among universities world-wide;

Bonnie Bassler, Squibb Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University; her discoveries about quorum sensing, the process by which single-cell bacteria communicate with each other, launched a revolution in biological and medical research;

Cecilia Ibeabuchi, nurse manager of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program clinic at St. Francis House, which provides the poor and homeless with vital services to enable them to reclaim their dignity and rebuild their lives; tireless worker on behalf of some of Boston’s most vulnerable citizens;

Farooq Kathwari, chairman, president and CEO of Ethan Allen Interiors Inc.; a director and former chair of Refugees International; member of the Council on Foreign Relations; his leadership on behalf of global peace and intercultural understanding has been recognized by the U.S. government’s Outstanding American by Choice award, among other honors.