Global Sports Icon Roger Federer to Speak at Commencement

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The humanitarian will receive an honorary degree at the June 9 ceremony.

Swiss tennis legend and philanthropist Roger Federer—one of the greatest male athletes the sport has ever known—will address the Class of 2024 and receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at Commencement, which takes place on Sunday, June 9. 

“Roger Federer is undeniably one the greatest athletes of all time, but it’s the evident joy that he always found on the court that stays with me, and that I think will resonate most with the Class of 2024,” says President Sian Leah Beilock, who describes herself as a Federer fan.

“I would argue that this gift for finding joy in the striving—even or especially in moments when winning didn’t come easily, or at all—is one of the keys to his long-term success and to his ability, now, to give back so selflessly to the causes that are most meaningful to him. I am thrilled to welcome him to campus.”

Roger Federer
Roger Federer celebrates his victory at Wimbledon in 2017, where he defeated Marin Čilić in straight sets. Federer won eight Wimbledon singles titles in his career, a record in men’s tennis. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Between 1998 and his retirement in 2022, Federer dominated the world of tennis, ranking No. 1 in the world for men’s singles for a consecutive 237 weeks—a record—and 310 weeks total. 

During his career, he won 103 Association of Tennis Professionals Tour singles titles and 20 out of the 30 Grand Slam singles championships in which he competed, including a men’s record eight Wimbledon titles. He is one of only eight men to win all four major tournaments (the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open), and the only player in history to have won two Grand Slam tournaments—Wimbledon and the U.S. Open—five consecutive times.

Among other achievements, he won a gold medal in doubles at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, earned the title of Swiss Athlete of the Year six times, and won a record 40 ATP Tour Awards including the ATP Fan Favorite Award an unprecedented 19 consecutive times. The list goes on.

In 2003, Federer—who holds dual citizenship in Switzerland and South Africa—founded the Roger Federer Foundation, which to date has invested more than $96 million in early educational initiatives serving more than 2.7 million children living in poverty in Switzerland and six countries in southern Africa—Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Federer made substantial contributions to support vulnerable families in Switzerland. In addition, the foundation joined a consortium of donors to guarantee access to foundational learning for out-of-school children affected by the war in Ukraine. In January 2020, Federer joined his friend and fellow tennis star Rafael Nadal to raise money for people impacted by the Australian bushfires.

Federer’s well-known preference for playing on grass (he famously won a record 65 consecutive grass-court matches between 2003 and 2008) is the subject of a tongue-in-cheek Commencement announcement video Federer recorded with President Beilock earlier this month, which features a cameo by CNN anchor and Dartmouth trustee Jake Tapper ’91, who delivered his own commencement address in 2017.

Tennis team around a laptop
Members of the tennis teams react Thursday morning as they get advance notice that Roger Federer will speak at Commencement. President Sian Leah Beilock joined them at the Boss Tennis Center for the news. (Photo by Katie Lenhart)

In the video, while Beilock and a Dartmouth groundskeeper worry that the snow- and mud-covered Dartmouth Green of early spring won’t be green enough in time for Commencement, Federer tells the camera, “I am so excited and honored to be your Commencement speaker this year, and, of course, I hope I see you on the Big Green in June.” 

Beilock herself will be delivering valedictory remarks at her first Commencement ceremony as Dartmouth president. 

In addition to conferring degrees on undergraduate and professional and graduate students of the Class of 2024, Beilock will also confer honorary degrees on several leaders—whose names will be announced soon—in the sciences, medicine, government, technology, and more. 

Commencement Dates to Know

Saturday, May 11

9 a.m.—Geisel School of Medicine Class Day at Lebanon Opera House, Lebanon, N.H. The speaker is John Paul Sánchez, dean of Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine.

Friday, June 7

2 p.m.—Geisel MPH and MS Class Day on Life Sciences Center lawn. The speaker is Irene Dankwa-Mullan, Geisel ’97, chief health officer at Marti Health.

Saturday, June 8

9:15 a.m.—Thayer School of Engineering Investiture at the West End Circle. Mung Chiang, president of Purdue University, will deliver the keynote address. 

1 p.m.—Tuck Investiture at the steps of Tuck Hall. Kenny Mitchell ’97, Tuck ’04, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Levi’s brand at Levi Strauss and Co., will deliver the investiture address.

2 p.m.—Baccalaureate, a multifaith, multicultural celebration for graduates and their families, Rollins Chapel. The speaker will be Andrew Nalani ’16, an assistant professor of human and organizational development at Vanderbilt University.

4 p.m.—Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies Investiture on the Green. Reception to follow on the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center Lawn. 

Sunday, June 9

9 a.m.—Academic procession to the Green. The Commencement ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m.

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