Keynote Speaker for the 141st Commencement

Commencement Speaker 2024: Jeannie Leavitt

Jeannie M. Leavitt

Retired Maj. Gen. Jeannie M. Leavitt, the first female fighter pilot for the U.S. Air Force, will deliver the keynote address for the 141st Commencement of The University of Texas at Austin.

General Leavitt entered the Air Force in 1992 after earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and her Master of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University. She earned her commission as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program. She graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training in January of 1993 and became the first female fighter pilot for the United States Air Force in April of 1993 when the Department of Defense changed the combat exclusion policy.

General Leavitt has served in a variety of flying, staff, and command assignments. As Commander, Air Force Safety Center—and Chief of Safety for the Air Force and Space Force—she developed, directed, and evaluated all aviation, ground, weapons, space and system mishap prevention and nuclear surety programs. As Director of Operations and Communications, Air Education and Training Command, she was responsible for providing initial skills, undergraduate flying, post graduate combat crew and supplemental training for more than 300,000 Air Force, Space Force, joint, and international personnel at 65 Air Force and Department of Defense locations. 

Other positions General Leavitt held include Air Force Recruiting Service Commander, 57th Wing Commander, Principal Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, 4th Fighter Wing Commander, and Fellow at the Central Intelligence Agency. Additional graduate degrees she earned include a Master of Business Administration from Auburn University, a Master of Military Operational Art and Science from Air University, and a Master of National Security Strategy from the National War College, National Defense University.

Her extensive experience in wartime, contingency and humanitarian relief operations include Operations Southern and Northern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. She is a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours, including 300+ hours in combat. General Leavitt is a graduate and former F-15E instructor pilot of the United States Air Force Weapons School.

General Leavitt was recognized as an Outstanding Young Texas Ex in 1997 and was presented with the 2021/2022 Distinguished Engineering Graduate award from the Cockrell School of Engineering. General Leavitt was also one of six recipients of the UT Distinguished Alumni Award in 2023.

Click here to read the UT News Press release.