Last night the University announced that Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has been confirmed as the Senior Convocation speaker at Cornell University’s 142nd Commencement Weekend. Senior Convocation will be held at Schoellkopf Stadium on May 29, 2010. According to Heather Levy ’10, head of the 2010 Convocation Committee, Pelosi will address the graduating seniors and the rest of the audience for about 25 minutes in a public ceremony.
Pelosi, now in her second term as House Speaker, is the first woman to lead a major political party. She has represented the city of San Francisco since 1987 and served for one year as the House Democratic whip prior to her election as Democratic leader.
“The Speaker is honored to accept the invitation to address the 2010 Cornell graduates in May and looks forward to discussing the critical priorities that lay ahead for our nation’s next generation of leaders,” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesperson, said in a statement last night.
According to Levy, the Convocation Committee was fortunate to have the support of the University and members of Pelosi’s staff in securing Pelosi as convocation speaker. Levy believes that Pelosi fulfills the Committee’s objective to find a speaker who represents the diverse interests of the student body. The committee, composed of diverse members of the senior class in charge of choosing a speaker interesting to the Cornell community has been working on the speaker process for nearly a year.
Chris Basil ’10, a member of the Convocation Committee, said that the selection process considered the opinions of members of the Class of 2010 through polls and petitions.
“The committee polled people to see who they would like to hear and see and then worked from there,” Basil said.
Basil believes that Pelosi’s universally acknowledged achievements will appeal to Cornell’s diverse student body.
“Speaker Pelosi is a person who has accomplished a lot and whatever she speaks about will be a message of her accomplishments and parting words for the class of 2010,” he said.
The committee trusts that Pelosi’s reflection on the future will serve as an inspirational sendoff for the Class of 2010.
“For us to get someone as powerful as she is will be great to have as a sendoff,” Basil said. “It will be really interesting to hear her world view on the world’s current state of affairs and how they will be in the future for our generation.”
According to Levy, the committee is especially excited by the confirmation and by how early in the semester the speaker has been secured.
“The fact that we could get one of the most amazing women in Washington is an amazing accomplishment, regardless of your politics and beliefs,” Levy said.
Levy believes that having the Speaker of the House come to campus to facilitate Cornell seniors’ transition into the real world will be an unforgettable opportunity.
“Seniors will remember that the Speaker of the House spoke at their graduation,” Levy said.
This year’s announcement of the Convocation speaker is the earliest in recent years. Last year’s speaker, President Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe, was not announced until early March.