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spring commencement 2024

John Surma is Pitt’s 2024 spring commencement speaker

John Surma in a gray suit

John P. Surma, a philanthropist, business leader and member of Pitt’s Board of Trustees, will serve as speaker for the University’s 2024 spring commencement. The ceremony is at 1 p.m. April 28 at the Petersen Events Center.

Pitt will also award Surma with an honorary degree in recognition of his contributions to both the University and the broader community.

Surma, the chair of UPMC’s board of directors and nonexecutive chairman of Marathon Petroleum Corporation, has been a longtime supporter of the University. He and his wife, Elizabeth Surma (SPH ’81G), donated $1 million in 2012 to support the renovation of the Graduate School of Public Health.

Surma graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science in accounting and began his professional journey at Price Waterhouse (now PwC), where he became partner.  He then joined Marathon Oil Company, serving in several executive roles including as president of Marathon Ashland Petroleum. 

Effective with the separation from USX Corporation, Surma became vice chairman and chief financial officer of United States Steel Corporation in 2002. He was elected president and chief executive officer in 2004, and chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer in 2006. Surma retired from U. S. Steel in 2013.

Surma has engaged in civic leadership and philanthropy beyond his corporate work, including serving on the boards of the World Steel Association, the American Iron and Steel Institute, the National Safety Council, and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. He currently serves on the boards of PSEG and Trane Technologies.


— Donovan Harrell, photography courtesy of Marathon