Durham County

Paul Farmer will be Duke commencement speaker

Dr. Paul Farmer, a Duke University graduate who co-founded an organization that works to improve health care for the world’s poorest people, will deliver the commencement address at his alma mater in May.

Farmer graduated from Duke in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in medical anthropology and went on to earn a Ph.D. and medical degree from Harvard University. In 1987, he co-founded Partners In Health, a non-profit organization that does research and provides health care services and advocacy for people in some of the poorest places in the world, including Haiti, Rwanda and most recently parts of West Africa afflicted by the Ebola virus.

The organization was an extension of work Farmer began in 1983 in Haiti. Author Tracy Kidder told the story of Farmer’s work there and elsewhere in the book “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World.”

“At graduation, we want students to feel that their education has prepared them to lead significant lives in service to their world,” Duke President Richard H. Brodhead said in a statement. “It’s hard to think of a person who could give this message in a more inspiring way than Paul Farmer.”

The commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on May 10 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, instead of a Wallace Wade Stadium, which will be undergoing renovations.