YouTube entrepreneur Sal Khan to headline 2019 commencement

Education video pioneer to be joined by Cindy McCain and student Steven Spencer

By Ross Brenneman

Salman Khan

Salman Khan, the entrepreneur founder of Khan Academy, will be the keynote speaker at USC Rossier’s 100th Commencement master’s degree ceremony this May. Board of Councilors member Cindy McCain ’76 MS ’78 and MAT graduate Steven Spencer will also speak at the ceremony.

The master’s degree event is Friday, May 10. Doctoral students will be hooded on Thursday, May 9.

The tutor

Khan was working as a hedge fund manager in the early aughts when he started creating videos as a way to teach his young cousin about math. A graduate of MIT and the Harvard Business School, Khan started putting his videos on YouTube in 2006, where they became extremely popular. Dubbed “Khan Academy,” the enterprise now has more than 100 employees and more than 7,500 videos covering economics, history, science and more.

Khan has also been one of the leading proponents for an instructional model often referred to as a “flipped classroom,” where work is done in the classroom and instruction is provided at home via video. The model has proven extremely popular, leading the U.S. Department of Education to fund a multi-year randomized-control trial evaluating the Khan Academy’s effectiveness; the study began in 2015, with results yet to be published.

Cindy McCain

The philanthropist

A Double Trojan, Cindy McCain graduated from USC Rossier with a master’s degree in special education in 1978. She is now the board chair of the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University, and also chairs the Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council.

Active with several philanthropies, McCain is also chair of the Hensley Beverage Company, one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in the nation.

Steven Spencer

The teacher

Steven Spencer will deliver the student address at this year’s ceremony. Spencer formally graduated from the USC MAT Program in December 2018 with a Secondary English Language Arts credential. He is now an 11th grade English teacher at Sunnyside High School in Fresno Unified School District.

Spencer plans on continuing his education at USC this fall as a student in the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program.

Related Stories: