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Credit: Disney

Disney CEO Bob Chapek to Make First Public Speech Since Florida Fallout

The Walt Disney Company has been in the limelight ever since its Walt Disney World Reedy Creek Improvement District political fallout.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek has been silent on the matter, with his future in Disney leadership being brought into question. In the midst of not making any public statements or media interviews, Chapek has been spotted at Disneyland and now, will be making his first public speech since the DeSantis vs Disney war. 

Bob Chapek with Mickey and Minnie

Credit: Disney

Indiana University recently announced that Disney CEO Bob Chapek, an Indiana University alumnus, will be the commencement speaker at the May 7, 2022, undergraduate ceremony.

“Our Indiana University graduates are exceptional, and we are thrilled to celebrate their remarkable academic achievements during our commencement ceremonies throughout the state,” IU President Pamela Whitten said in a news release. “We are also honored to welcome our distinguished Guests to our IU campuses to mark this significant milestone in the lives of our graduates and their family and friends.”

Chapek graduated from IU Bloomington with a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology, followed by his MBA from Michigan State University.

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Credit: D23

Bob Chapek’s role as Disney CEO follows a 15-year tenure from Bob Iger, with Iger’s surprise exit in 2020 shocking Disney fans across the world. Chapek did not have it easy to begin with as CEO, starting just before the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of closures of the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, and Disney Parks across the globe, as well as a high-profile lawsuit with Scarlett Johansson.

He won’t just be Disney CEO after May 7, though. The university is also awarding Chapek with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the undergraduate ceremony, so after the ceremony, he will be able to call himself Dr. Bob Chapek.

As commencement speaker at Indiana University, Chapek will be the only recent Disney executive to be invited to take this special role. In 2021, then Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger was invited to speak at commencement ceremonies at the University of Texas at Austin, while former Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner was also invited to multiple ceremonies as a commencement speaker, including at the University of Southern California in 2000, and at his alma mater, Denison University in Granville, Ohio, in 1989.

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Credit: IU

This will be the first public speech made by Chapek since the highly-publicized political fallout with Florida. After lawmakers in the Florida state House voted to approve a bill that, starting in June 2023, will revoke the special Reedy Creek self-governing privileges afforded to the Walt Disney World Resort, it seems interesting that Bob Chapek has not made any comments regarding the issue.

Seeing as the move from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came as retaliation for Chapek’s critical stance on Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill, Chapek is strategically staying silent. Disney initially shied away from making a public statement regarding Florida’s new bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which many people believe targets the LGBTQ+ community. Disney’s eventual aggressive stance caused a war with Florida’s governing body. And now, after the House vote, Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista might be losing its special tax treatment in Reedy Creek.

For those not able to attend the ceremonies, a live stream will feature on Indiana University’s website. IU Bloomington’s commencement featuring Bob Chapek will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 7.

We’ll have to see if Chapek heads to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme parks next. Disney Tips will keep you posted on the continued Disney vs Florida feud.

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who has worked at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Adventures by Disney! A British native, she has traveled the world seeking new experiences, and now resides in Florida with her husband, an Air Force pilot. Find her children's book at @bear.hug.book