New graduates of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln will receive an extraordinary send-off Dec. 19, when famed alumnus Warren Buffett, '51, offers them words of encouragement via an exclusive recorded phone call and video.
“There is nobody I would rather be than a young person graduating from the University of Nebraska today,” Buffett says in a 10-minute recorded phone conversation with Chancellor Ronnie Green, created for use as a virtual graduation address. “I would say this to the current year’s class: ‘I would love to trade places with any of them.’ They feel they’re going out into an uncertain world and all of that, but there’s never been a better time.”
Buffett doesn’t grant many interviews but agreed to this conversation with Green for the benefit of his alma mater. It will be presented in the form of video and has been edited to include photos of Buffett and his family. As he chats with Green, he offers new graduates guidance for finding the right career, for lifelong learning and for achieving the most meaningful success.
This will be the third virtual conferral of degrees for Nebraska since the coronavirus pandemic began late last winter. Each time, efforts have been made to keep the virtual celebration as memorable as possible. This December’s event will be particularly unforgettable because of the participation of Buffett, who, as chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is considered one of the most successful investors in the world.
Buffett’s commencement remarks will be made available to the public at https://www.unl.edu
when the commencement ceremony begins streaming at 9 a.m. Dec. 19. For more information about the “Go Big Grad” event and to watch the virtual celebration, visit https://commencement.unl.edu
Buffett is a 1951 graduate of the University of Nebraska who transferred to his home state university after two years at the highly regarded Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. During his conversation with Green, he remarks that his decision to leave Wharton surprised some, but Nebraska provided him business skills that gave him a competitive edge throughout his storied career. Born in Omaha in 1930, Buffett spent his junior high and high school years in Washington, D.C. while his father, Howard, served as a congressman representing Nebraska. Both his parents were Nebraska alumni, who in fact met at the university.
He developed an interest in business and investing as a youth. Along with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Nebraska, he earned a master’s degree in economics from Columbia University in 1951. In 1956, he created Buffett Partnership, Ltd., and his firm eventually acquired a textile manufacturing firm called Berkshire Hathaway, assuming its name to create a diversified holding company. He has been the chairman and largest shareholder of the company since 1970.
Berkshire Hathaway has grown under his leadership with investments throughout the years in Coca-Cola, Apple, American Express, Bank of America and other well-known firms. It also owns Nebraska Furniture Mart, Borsheim’s jewelry store, See’s Candies and GEICO insurance.
Buffett is a notable philanthropist, as well, having pledged to give away 99% of his fortune to philanthropic causes, primarily via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He founded The Giving Pledge in 2009 with Bill Gates, whereby billionaires pledge to give away at least half of their fortunes.