Chobani founder is keynote for Adelphi’s 2023 Commencement

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Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani, the popular yogurt brand, will be the keynote for Adelphi University’s 2023 Commencement on May 23 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale. The university will award Ulukaya an honorary doctorate degree, recognizing his work as an entrepreneur and a humanitarian.

Ulukaya built Chobani on the foundation that it would do well by doing good. From 2020 to 2021, the company donated 10.5 million products in the fight against food insecurity across the United States. At the same time, the company advocated for policies that would help end hunger for 17 million children in the United States.

Raised in a dairy-farming family in a small village in eastern Turkey, Ulukaya moved to the United States in 1994 to study English at Adelphi. He then continued his education at SUNY Albany. It was upstate New York where Ulukaya started up a small wholesale feta company, and by 2005, he founded Chobani.

From the very beginning, the company had a mission and vision of making quality food more accessible. Within five years of its launch, Chobani was a billion-dollar brand. Today, Chobani is recognized as the top-selling yogurt brand in the nation, according to Statista. Chobani  has since expanded to offer dairy and plant-based creamers, oat milk and coffee.

Ulukaya is recognized 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 became 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.

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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,” Adelphi Provost Christopher Storm, said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming him back to campus.”



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