Twitter executive, retired Army general speaking at Auburn’s spring commencement

Article body

A Twitter executive and a retired Army general, both Auburn graduates, will be guest speakers at Auburn University’s spring commencement ceremonies Saturday and Sunday, May 7-8, in Auburn Arena. Approximately 3,793 new graduates will receive diplomas.

Twitter Vice President of Data Strategy Chris Moody will speak Saturday at a 10 a.m. ceremony for the College of Human Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts and at a 2 p.m. ceremony for the School of Nursing, the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and the College of Architecture, Design and Construction.

Retired Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, who stepped down from his post May 1 having served most recently as commander of U.S. Central Command, will speak Sunday at a 1 p.m. ceremony for the College of Agriculture, the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business and University College and at a 5 p.m. ceremony for the College of Sciences and Mathematics, the College of Education and the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.

The ceremonies will be streamed online at

Moody, who graduated from Auburn in 1990 with a degree in electrical engineering, is considered a pioneer in the data industry, and he has worked closely with some of Silicon Valley’s fastest growing technology companies to help them formulate and execute their data strategies. He is also founder and chairman of The Big Boulder Initiative, the largest nonprofit organization focused on the impact of social data. Moody’s views on the importance of data to global health and safety have been shared across the world, including at the White House and the United Nations.

Moody was previously CEO of Gnip, the world’s largest provider of social data, acquired by Twitter in 2014. Prior to Gnip, Moody was at Aquent where he served in several executives roles including chief operating officer, during which time he was responsible for the daily operations of 70 teams in 17 countries. Moody began his career as a technology consultant working for EDS, Oracle and IBM.

Austin, a Thomasville, Georgia, native, holds a bachelor’s degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, a master’s in education from Auburn University and a master’s in business management from Webster University. His numerous awards and decorations include the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor in combat; five Defense Distinguished Service Medals; the Combat Action Badge; the Master Parachutist Badge and the Ranger Tab.

Austin spent nearly 41 years in the military, commanding units at every level, including in combat during his three deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. In 2003, as the assistant division commander for maneuver for the 3rd Infantry Division, he helped to lead the invasion of Iraq at the outset of OPERATION Iraqi Freedom. He next served as the commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division (Light), Fort Drum, New York, from 2003 until 2005 with duty as commander, Combined Joint Task Force-180, OPERATION Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. As the commanding general, XVIIIth Airborne Corps, he commanded Multi-National Corps-Iraq, OPERATION Iraqi Freedom from 2008 to 2009. As a four-star general officer, he commanded United States Forces – Iraq from September 2010 through the completion of OPERATION New Dawn in December 2011, directing the successful transition of all U.S. forces and equipment out of Iraq by the December 2011 deadline. He then served as the 33rd vice chief of staff of the Army from January 2012 to March 2013. In his final assignment, he served as the 12th commander of United States Central Command from 2013 to 2016.

Auburn will award 91 doctoral degrees, 690 master’s degrees, four educational specialist degrees and 2,763 bachelor’s degrees. The bachelor’s degrees by college and school are: Agriculture, 152; Architecture, 175; Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, 542; Education, 261; Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, 535; Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, 38; Human Sciences, 139; Liberal Arts, 512; Nursing, 95; Sciences and Mathematics, 289; and University College, 25.

The College of Veterinary Medicine and the James Harrison School of Pharmacy, both professional schools, will award diplomas at separate ceremonies at Auburn Arena. The Veterinary Medicine ceremony will be held on Tuesday, May 3, at 6 p.m. for 116 graduates, and the Pharmacy ceremony will be held Tuesday, May 10, at 10 a.m. for 129 graduates.

Related Media

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.