March 5, 2003

James Carville to Speak at Convocation Ceremonies

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The Convocation Committee has chosen political strategist James Carville to speak at this year’s Convocation ceremony on May 24.

Class of 2003 President Steve Harasim made the announcement last night to a crowd gathered at Collegetown Bagels.

James Carville is best known for managing Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaign in 1992 and serving as Clinton’s senior political advisor. Since that time he has acted as a political consultant for a number of international political figures and has written several books. He is currently featured on CNN’s debate program Crossfire.

“I think it’s a great thing because he’s one of the political geniuses of our time,” said Jamie Hanlon ’03, a member of the committee who selected Carville. “Even if people don’t share his political views he’s very respected.”

The selection process was carried out by the Convocation Committee, an organization comprised of the Student Assembly, the Student Assembly Finance Commission, the Cornell University Program Board and the Class Council. The process took almost 11 months.

“We got together and we culled a list of people who we thought were appropriate to speak to the whole class, people who would really inspire the class,” said Harasim.

“We were looking for people who had strong names but more importantly we were looking for the right fit, the kind of person that someone from Cornell would want to see but would also have a challenging message.”

Committee members declined to specify the names of other speakers who were being considered.

“There were 10 people we chose as of last year and we pursued each of them, and this was one of the people on our original list of ten. We were glad that it worked out and we were able to pick one of our top ten,” said Harasim.

Funding for the convocation is provided through the student activity fee and is currently $2.50 per student, adding up to a total of approximately $30,000. Some committee members voiced concerns regarding funding for the event, saying that they continue to seek more support from the administration. “Although the administration assists with some aspects of he convocation, we are looking for ways to increase funding through their support,” said one committee member, who wished to remain anonymous.

Students attending the event responded to the announcement. “I’m pretty excited, as a communications major [I’ve] studied a lot of political strategies, and so James Carville was always a big topic,” said Jacques Vigneault ’03. “I know he’s a great communicator, and so I think it’ll be exciting to hear him speak.”

Other students were less aware of Carville’s credentials. “I know who he is, I don’t know a lot about his work or his life.” said Mary Margaret Moore ’03, “I assume that he has a good sense of how to make a big event meaningful because of what he does.”

The announcement was a well-attended and festive event, as members of the Class Council handed out Mardi Gras beads and seniors were able to enjoy free bagels. The Hangovers also made an appearance, singing before and after the announcement was made.

Archived article by Jeff Sickelco