Chobani CEO, Entrepreneur to Speak at Adelphi's 2023 Commencement
Garden City, NY (03/08/2023) — Adelphi University will award an honorary doctorate degree to entrepreneur and humanitarian Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani, on Tuesday, May 23 at its commencement ceremony at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. Hamdi will also serve as the keynote speaker for the event.
As a leader in the food manufacturing industry, Ulukaya built Chobani on the foundation that it would do well by doing good. In 2020-2021, the company donated 10.5 million products to fight food insecurity across America and advocated for policies that work toward ending hunger for 17 million American children.
Ulukaya was raised in a dairy-farming family in a small village in eastern Turkey. In 1994, he moved to the United States to study English at Adelphi, then continued his education at SUNY Albany. He launched a small wholesale feta company in upstate New York before founding Chobani in 2005 with the mission and vision of making quality food more accessible. Five years after selling the first cup of yogurt, Chobani was a billion-dollar brand, and today is the number one selling yogurt brand in the United States. The company has since expanded to an innovative modern food portfolio, adding dairy and plant-based creamers, oat milk, and coffee.
Ulukaya is well-known for his employee-first policies, including instituting innovative profit-sharing and paid parental leave programs for Chobani's 2,000-plus employees and implementing competitive hourly wage increases well above the federal rate. He has also become a leading voice in the movement to hire refugees, having discovered through his own experience hiring them that "the minute a refugee gets a job is the minute they stop being a refugee." That inspired him to start the Tent Partnership for Refugees in 2016, a foundation that mobilizes the business community to connect refugees to work. Tent's 300 corporate members include Amazon, H&M, Adidas, Hilton, Loreal and Pfizer. Ulukaya also signed the Giving Pledge, committing the majority of his personal wealth to help bring an end to refugees' crisis.
For his humanitarian and leadership efforts, Ulukaya was named an Eminent Advocate by the United Nations Refugee Agency and received the United Nations Foundation Global Leadership Award, among other recognitions. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recognized him as a Sustainable Development Goals Advocate. Ulukaya has received the Oslo Business for Peace Award, the George H.W Bush Points of Light Award, and the Global Citizen Prize winner, and he was named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People in the World.
"As someone who attended Adelphi and represents our core values of global-mindedness, community service, and social justice, he is an inspiring and fitting role model of career success and compassion," said Adelphi Provost Christopher K. Storm, Ph.D. "We look forward to welcoming him back to campus."
Learn more about Adelphi's 2023 Commencement Ceremony at adelphi.edu/commencement.