Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, will bring his story of helping to create the web’s largest, free and open-source encyclopedia as the keynote speaker at Stevenson University’s 2010 Commencement May 21. Ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the Gymnasium on Stevenson’s Greenspring campus, 1525 Greenspring Valley Rd., Stevenson, Md. The University will award degrees to 528 graduates.
Wales’ creation has become the first stop for information seekers. While professors might bristle at the idea of Wikipedia as a citable source, most graduates of 2010 will have used this online resource during their high school and college years.
An Alabama native, Wales earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Auburn University, followed by a master’s degree in finance from the University of Alabama. He built his early fortune as a futures and options trader in Chicago, but turned his passion to the Internet, where he saw unlimited potential. After initial forays into web portals, he soon began developing a new idea: an online, peer-reviewed encyclopedia. By early 2001, he launched Wikipedia.
Today, Wikipedia has 3.2 million articles in total in the English version alone. In March 2010, Inside Higher Ed reported students turn to Wikipedia for background information and that architecture, engineering and science majors are most likely to use the online reference.
“An essential part of higher education’s mission is staying on the forefront of the concepts and technologies that change how our society works,” said Kevin J. Manning, Ph.D., President of Stevenson University. “Jimmy Wales is one of those individuals who have radically altered how we communicate and share knowledge. His insights can help set the stage for how our graduates will need to think and work in an increasingly dynamic world.”
Recently ranked as one of just 77 “Top Up-and-Coming Schools” nationally by U.S. News & World Report, Stevenson is the third-largest independent university in Maryland with more than 3,400 students pursuing bachelor’s, master’s and adult accelerated degrees in the classroom and online. The University is committed to providing a career-focused education, and 95 percent of its December 2008/May 2009 graduates have found jobs or been admitted to graduate programs.