Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will address graduating seniors as this year’s convocation speaker, the Class of 2011 Convocation Committee announced Monday.
Giuliani will be the first Republican politician to speak at Cornell’s convocation since the annual tradition of hosting a guest speaker began in 1984.
Of the past 27 convocation speakers, 15 have been prominent Democrats, such as former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Obama advisor David Plouffe, Gen. Wesley Clark, former President Bill Clinton, Democratic pundit James Carville and former Attorney General Janet Reno ’60.
Giuliani served as Mayor of New York City from from 1994 to 2001, and received widespread praise for his leadership in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That year he was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
It was Giuliani’s experience of leading New York in the wake of tragedy that made him attractive choice, according to Convocation Committee Chair Christopher Mejia ’11.
“Giuliani’s ability to rise to the occasion and tactfully lead the beginning of New York City’s recovery in the aftermath of 9/11 exemplifies the dynamic leadership that graduates of Cornell University aspire to,” Mejia said in a statement.
Peter Bouris ’12, chair of the Cornell Republicans, said the selection of the first Republican convocation speaker caught him off guard, but he was pleased nonetheless.
“I figured if they were going to bring anyone from politics it would be someone slightly to the left-of-center or part of the left,” Bouris said. “I’m glad they’re bringing a guy like [Giuliani]. It is encouraging to see that there’s a consideration of the other side, which I know a lot of us hadn’t thought was the case.”
Giuliani was on the national stage most recently during his unsuccessful bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. He has not ruled out running for president in 2012, telling reporters in recent weeks that he would make a decision after seeing how the field of candidates settles.
Giuliani is also the founder of a security consulting business, a partner at a large international law firm and a frequent political commentator on television.
This year’s Convocation Ceremony is scheduled for noon on May 28. Giuliani’s speech will be open to the public at Schoelkopf Stadium, unless inclement weather forces the University to move the speech to an alternate location. If that happens, the event will be limited to students with inclement weather tickets.
Jeff Stein contributed reporting to this story.
Original Author: Michael Stratford