As students prepare to trade their “Save the Rave” tanks for caps and gowns, proceed into Schoellkopf Stadium and bid goodbye to Cornell at the Class of 2012’s graduation this weekend, President David Skorton said he hopes to impart optimism to them in his address.
“This is my second favorite time of the year — my favorite being the first day of vacation,” Skorton quipped in a conference call Monday.
More than 3,000 undergraduates and more than 1,000 professional and graduate students will become Cornell alumni this weekend. The graduating students, part of Cornell’s 144th commencement class, come from 91 different countries.
Having already flown to Doha, Qatar, to attend Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar’s commencement for the third year in a row, Skorton said he is enthused about the coming weekend.
“It’s fascinating to see young people grow up and end up in their cap and gown on Saturday,” Skorton said.
Graduation weekend, Skorton said, shows that “all of the work that the staff and faculty and students do comes to fruition in changing people’s lives.”
The relief accompanying graduation’s approach is palpable in Ithaca, where students flocked en masse to Libe Slope Wednesday afternoon for a Senior Week barbeque, and by night, mingled with peers on their porches, music pulsating throughout Collegetown.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg  will address the crowd of soon-to-be graduates and their families at Saturday’s convocation ceremony, a choice that Skorton said he was “thrilled” with.
“I’m looking forward to having him being struck by the beauty of the surroundings and very much looking forward to having him see what a fantastic community we have,” Skorton said.
Since Cornell won NYC’s tech campus competition  in December, the University has forged more and more relationships with the city.
While buzz around the tech campus has been unrelenting among media outlets, with Cornell announcing it has sealed agreements with both Google  and the former chief technology officer of Twitter this week, Skorton said that the convocation committee’s decision to invite Bloomberg to speak stemmed from student enthusiasm.
“I will reiterate that it is a student invitation and decision on whom to invite [to Convocation],” Skorton said. “My perspective on this is that this is one of the terrific prerogatives that the senior class has, to choose a Convocation speaker. I’m always curious who is on the list and who they will choose … and I thank the students for coming up with a very interesting idea.”
Asked to hint at what Cornellians and friends will take away from the weekend, Skorton said he hopes to imbue his commencement address with optimism, as graduates prepare to leave The Hill and enter what he described as a world rife with uncertainty.
“I think at this time of the world, where the recession continues, where problems abound on every side, where tensions are occurring between societies and among groups in individual societies, including this very community … engaging with the public and beyond the walls of the University is more important than ever,” Skorton said.
If he will speak of the need to reach out to others in an ever-turbulent society, Skorton hopes, too, to affix his goodbye to the Class of 2012 with a note to maintain “hope for the future.”
“After all, [that] is what commencement is all about; it’s a very optimistic event,” Skorton said.
Bloomberg will deliver his convocation address at noon on Saturday, while Skorton will speak at commencement at 11 a.m. Sunday.