Ergen to speak at commencement

Charlie Ergen, the chairman of satellite broadcaster Dish Network Corporation and EchoStar Communications Corporation, will deliver Wake Forest’s 2012 commencement address on May 21.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on Wake Forest’s Hearn Plaza. The ceremony is a ticketed event reserved for graduates and their guests and is not open to the general public.

A national leader in the rapidly evolving world of TV technologies and programming, Ergen has decades-long ties to Wake Forest. Ergen, who earned an MBA at the university in 1976, is recognized as one of the most accomplished graduates of Wake Forest’s Schools of Business. He is the parent of five children, one of whom is a member of the Class of 2012.

“What Charlie Ergen has accomplished, and how he has accomplished it, is a great message for today’s students,” said Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch.  “He took great risks, defied great odds and did things his own way.”

The roots of his pioneering entrepreneurial ventures date to more than 30 years ago when Ergen, his wife, Candy, and a business associate co-founded EchoStar Communications, a small business selling and installing satellite dishes at homes in Colorado. Under Ergen’s vision and leadership, Dish Network was launched in 1996 and became the fastest growing direct-to-home satellite television company in the United States, currently serving more than 14 million customers.

EchoStar and Dish Network split into two separate, publicly traded companies in 2008. EchoStar focuses on creating hardware and service solutions for cable, telco, IPTV and satellite TV companies worldwide.

In his career, Ergen has been recognized by numerous business publications as one of the nation’s top chief executive officers. He was instrumental in fighting for consumer rights with the passage of the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act and was a co-founder of the Satellite Broadcasting Communications Association.

“Students, who face challenging times, need to hear the story of the Ergens, who were not backed by wealth or position, and began to have great dreams, and found a way to bring them into reality,” Hatch said.

Jonathan T.M. Reckford


Jonathan T.M. Reckford, the chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International, will deliver the baccalaureate address during commencement weekend at 11 a.m. on May 20 in Wait Chapel. Habitat is an ecumenical Christian housing ministry that has helped shelter more than 2.5 million people in more than 100 countries.

The baccalaureate service is a ticketed event open to graduates and their guests.

Reckford is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He received his MBA degree from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.  As a recipient of the Henry Luce Scholarship, Reckford was given the opportunity to live and work in Asia for a year.  During that time, he worked in marketing for the Olympic Organizing Committee, preparing for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. He also coached the Korean national rowing team, having been a competitive rower previously.

Early in his career, he worked in the for-profit sector, including executive and managerial positions at Goldman Sachs, Marriott, Disney and Best Buy. Always active in his local faith community, Reckford found an avocation helping to coach pastors in dealing with the management side of church life. In 2003, he turned his volunteer service into full-time ministry as executive pastor of a 4,300-member church in Minnesota.

In 2005, Reckford joined Habitat as CEO.  He is the author of “Creating a Habitat for Humanity: No Hands but Yours.” He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the boards of Interaction and the Urban Land Institute Terwilliger Center on Workforce Housing.

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