On Thursday, the University announced that Golden Globe-nominated actress Constance Wu — most famous for her roles in the film “Crazy Rich Asians” and TV show “Fresh Off the Boat” — will be Cornell’s senior convocation speaker.
Senior convocation is an annual event where the year’s graduating senior class comes together to hear from a distinguished individual. Past speakers have included James Franco, then-Vice President Joe Biden, Bill Nye ’77 and Roxane Gay.
This year, the event has changed shape. It will occur during Senior Days rather than Commencement Weekend, and in-person attendance at the event will be limited to graduating undergraduate seniors, with extra seats offered to graduating graduate and professional students.
Convocation organizers said they felt Wu — an acclaimed actress with roles in numerous popular films and a history of activism regarding Asian-Americans in the entertainment industry — was a perfect fit for the ceremony, and would bring a combination of inspiration and humor.
However, the announcement was accompanied by critiques of the process used to find convocation speakers. At Thursday’s Student Assembly meeting, Convocation Committee member Isabella Ogbolumani ’22 told S.A. representatives that the search was hampered by decisions made by the University administration.
According to Ogbolumani, funding was an issue in the search, as COVID-19-related increases in speaking fees and the University’s budget for a convocation speaker put many choices out of reach.
Ogbolumani also said that Convocation Committee members did not know that convocation would be taking place during Senior Days instead of Commencement Weekend — when it had previously occurred — until the University emailed all students with that information. Additionally, committee members were not informed about the status of the speakers requested on their original list of 15 until University staff had contacted roughly half the list.
“There was just, I think, an overall lack of open communication between the administration and the committee,” Ogbolumani said.
Nonetheless, the upcoming graduates are looking forward to hearing Wu speak.
“I’m very excited to see Constance Wu — ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is one of my favorite movies,” said S.A. President Anuli Ononye ’22.