ITHACA, N.Y. -- The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd president of the United States, will present the Senior Convocation address Saturday, May 29, during Cornell University's Commencement weekend.
Cornell will celebrate its 136th Commencement Sunday, May 30. University President Jeffrey S. Lehman will present his first commencement address and confer degrees at that ceremony.
David Jackson, chair of the 2004 senior class convocation committee, said, "The senior class officers are excited about former President Clinton's visit to Cornell as the Convocation keynote speaker. This year, we sought a speaker who enjoys a position of political significance, international renown, prestige and attentiveness to global and domestic issues.
"President Clinton embodies these traits in the perfect blend of charismatic leadership and intellectual achievement. Clinton has made remarkable progress for our country economically and culturally. He has had significant relevance in our lives," he added.
Saying that the Senior Convocation is "an event of congratulations, empowerment and commencement," Jackson said, "Clinton will be the best speaker to create that atmosphere. It will be interesting to see how he will offer his unique position on the variety of topics facing our class such as social, political and economic concerns globally and domestically. Most of all, we want to hear the personal reflections of a world leader to future leaders about how to fashion meaningful paths for ourselves and how to make sound decisions."
Cornell's Convocation speaker is selected by a committee of senior students who are members of Class Council, the Student Activity Finance Committee, Student Assembly, the Cornell University Program Board and the Willard Straight Hall Program Board.
President Lehman extended the invitation on behalf of the senior student organizations. He noted, "This will be President Clinton's first visit to the Cornell campus. I am delighted that he has accepted our students' invitation, and I look forward to welcoming him to Ithaca."
Elected president in 1992 and 1996, Clinton was the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term. He presided over the strongest American economy in a generation and the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. A record 22 million jobs and a trillion-dollar budget surplus were created. Inflation was at the lowest in 30 years, home-ownership
was at a record high and levels of unemployment, poverty and crime were reduced. He increased investments in education and expanded access to technology, while providing tax relief for working families. He engaged in diplomatic missions to promote peace and strengthen democracies around the world.
After leaving office in January 200l, Clinton founded the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation based in New York City, which focuses on AIDS treatment in poor countries; economic empowerment of the poor; reconciliation among racial, ethnic and religious groups; and citizen service. He was awarded a Grammy in February for narrating a recording of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf with Mikhail Gorbachev, Sophia Loren and the Russian National Orchestra.