Sunil Gulati, president of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), senior lecturer at Columbia University and Bucknell alumnus, has accepted an invitation to speak at Bucknell's 163rd Commencement celebration. Gulati will address the Class of 2013 on Sunday, May 19.
"Sunil Gulati's stellar reputation as a teacher combined with his leadership in professional soccer are a unique combination," Bucknell President John Bravman said. "His journey from his days at Bucknell to one of the most influential figures in the world's most popular sport gives him valuable insights for our graduates as they begin this next phase of their lives."
The student officers of the Class of 2013 recommended Gulati to the administration as this year's speaker. An economics and political science major at Bucknell, Gulati graduated magna cum laude in 1981. He went on to earn master of arts and master of philosophy degrees in economics at Columbia University. After several years of full-time teaching there, Gulati left in 1991 to join the World Bank, serving as country economist for the European nation Moldova.
Driven by his love for the sport, Gulati soon returned to soccer, joining the USSF. He was instrumental in helping the United States secure its first-ever World Cup in 1994. He later took over as deputy director of Major League Soccer before being elected USSF president in 2006. Gulati has been credited as a key figure in soccer's unprecedented rise in popularity in America. His influence over the game led the founder of Major League Soccer to call Gulati, "The single most important person in the development of soccer in this country." Gulati also remains a popular teacher at Columbia University, where students have been known to camp out overnight to get into his sport economics class.
"Knowing Mr. Gulati sat in the same seats we'll be sitting in, and built upon the same excellent Bucknell education to achieve so much — it's inspiring," said Class of 2013 President Katie Golub. "As a class, we look forward to learning from the experiences that helped shape his success."