Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson will be the keynote speaker at the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and ROTC Graduation and Joint Commissioning Ceremony on May 11.

Richardson is the senior military officer in the Navy, and this is his only commencement address this spring.

The ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in Burruss Auditorium. Tickets are not required, and public seating is available behind the graduates.

A livestream will be available from

During the event, 250 young men and women will walk across the stage.

Cadets and midshipmen going on to military careers will take an honorary oath to become military officers in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. They also will participate in formal commissioning ceremonies hosted by their individual ROTC units.

Among the graduates from the Citizen-Leader Track, which allows students to experience the corps’ leadership training without a military obligation, many already have career-starting jobs or acceptance to graduate school programs.

Richardson began serving as the 31st chief of naval operations Sept. 18, 2015. A member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he is the top naval advisor to the president and to the secretary of the Navy.

A submariner, Richardson previously served as director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, where he oversaw the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program and its naval reactors. Previous assignments included deputy commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet, chief of staff for the U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa, commander of Naval Submarine Forces, assistant deputy director for regional operations on the Joint Staff, and director of Strategy and Policy at U.S. Joint Forces Command.

He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in physics and earned master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, as well as a master’s degree in national security strategy from the National War College.

Written by Shay Barnhart