Satya Nadella

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for an event featuring him and Jeff Raikes, the namesake of UNL’s Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, on April 18.

The Raikes school and Chancellor Ronnie Green will co-host the event, which will run from noon to 1 p.m. at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, as an N150 celebration. Admission is free, with first-come, first-served seating.

According to Raikes school director Steve Cooper, Raikes and Nadella will have a casual conversation. He said the format, which the school has used in the past, allows for a more personal dialogue between those on stage.

Cooper said Raikes was a natural choice to lead the talk, not only as the school’s namesake, but also as the former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

After the talk, there will be a Q&A session for audience members. Mike Zeleny, chief of staff and associate to the chancellor, said people will have the option to write questions on notecards, which ushers will collect, or tweet questions with #MicrosoftatNebraska. The moderator will then choose which questions to ask Nadella.

“I think people will get a chance to learn from [Nadella] a little bit, listen to him and also ask hard questions of him because I don't think he's afraid,” Cooper said. “As best as I know, he’s set no rules saying, ‘I won't take questions on x or y or on zed.’ I think he’ll take questions on anything that are an interest to the students.”

Cooper said the Raikes school appreciates the help from the chancellor’s office with its experience handling large-scale events. Zeleny said they were happy to help out.

“We were delighted to present this special ‘town and gown’ opportunity as part of our 150th anniversary year celebration,” he said. “Giving our faculty, students, staff, alumni and community members the opportunity to meet and learn from giants in the field … is an important part of our outreach. And, of course, we want to share with them the best of our university and state.”

Cooper said the event is a great opportunity for students, regardless of major, because they get to hear from successful thought leaders. Since becoming CEO in 2014, Nadella has made a great impact on Microsoft, improving not just the company’s monetary value, but its reputation as well.

“The culture at Microsoft is so inviting,” said Allison Inman, a junior Raikes student and Microsoft intern. “I got a copy of Satya’s book while I was there, and it was pretty clear when reading it that Satya cares a lot about all of his employees.”

Cooper said the event is a good opportunity for Nadella, too.

“He could just as easily have gone only to Lincoln and Omaha, as being the two biggest population centers in the state, and just gone to talk to the business community,” he said. “But he didn't do that. He's coming to UNL … And hopefully our community will ask him some really thought-provoking questions.”