Miami University picks alum who now is Chipotle’s CEO to address grads

Miami University has selected an alumnus who is the chairman and chief executive officer of Chipotle Mexican Grill to give the keynote address at this year’s commencement.

Brian Niccol, class of 1996, will give the address at 10:30 a.m. on May 18 in Yager Stadium in Oxford.

“It is quite an honor to serve as a commencement speaker, and I am humbled by the invitation,” Niccol said, who became CEO of Chipotle in 2018 and chairman of its board of directors in 2020.

After graduating college, Niccol held brand management positions at Procter & Gamble over the next decade, became vice president at Yum! Brands in 2005, where he held executive positions at Pizza Hut until 2011, then served as chief marketing and innovation officer, president and CEO at Taco Bell before joining Chipotle in 2018.

As chairman and CEO of Chipotle, Niccole is responsible for “driving the brand’s purpose to cultivate a better world” at 3,400 restaurants in North American and Europe, and Chipotle’s business has more than doubled and the stock price is up over 600% since being under his leadership.

Niccol earned a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science and Engineering Management, where he said a marketing class in the Farmer School of Business is what opened his eyes to a possible new career path. He also earned his MBA from the University of Chicago.

Niccol has maintained a strong connection to the university, including by giving a donation to provide student-athletes with financial support. The Niccol Family Basketball Award for Excellence in Academics and Athletics is now part of the university’s Graduating Champions Academic Achievement Program. Through this fund, players who meet the academic qualifications and remains eligible to play will receive up to $5,980 annually.

“Part of the reason we give back is because I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for going to Miami and having professors who pointed me in the direction of the career that I’m in today,” he said.

About the Author