Class Speaker Announced: JOEL KLEIN

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Just seconds ago at the ‘Stend—amidst a crowd that at 10:30 PM consisted of a dozen people awkwardly milling about, but soon increased to several dozen—2008’s Columbia College Class Day speaker was announced.

Joel Klein, CC ’67, is the Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education and by the looks of it, quite obviously the love child of Wallace Shawn and Rudy Giuliani.


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  1. umm...  

    BS. There were like 100 people in the 'Stend

  2. well

    Joel Klein is Barack Obama Lite. Columbia --> Harvard Law -- Fame.

    What's really interesting is that Klein looks like he's CC '68. He was THERE, man! (Born 1946, graduated HLS '71 according to Wikipedia).

    Maybe you guys should ask him about the strike. Or something else cliched.

  3. no...  

    its definitely mandy moore.

  4. peons!  

    don't be fooled: joel klein is merely the form that max power takes when he is among mortals.

    look upon joel klein, ye mighty, and despair!

  5. CC'08  

    Rats, I wanted one last epic nonsense controversy. Like Jamie Gillis or the dude who made "Dreamgirls."

  6. edification

    From Wikipedia: "Joel I. Klein is Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, the largest public school system in the United States with over 1.1 million students in over 1,420 schools.

    Prior to his appointment to Chancellor in 2002 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Klein was Counsel to Bertelsmann and served as Assistant Attorney General of the United States in charge of the Antitrust Division. Klein may be best remembered for prosecuting the United States Department of Justice antitrust case against Microsoft. Before heading up the Antitrust Division Klein was the deputy to Anne Bingaman, (the wife of Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico ) in that office, and worked in the White House Counsel's office. He was in private practice for many years, specializing in appellate cases. Klein received his B.A. from Columbia and his J.D. from Harvard Law School. He served as a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell. Klein is married to Nicole Seligman, General Counsel to Howard Stringer of Sony Corp. Seligman represented former President Bill Clinton during impeachment proceedings in the United States Senate. Klein is rumored to aspire to succeed Mayor Bloomberg, who is term limited and cannot run in the 2009 election."

  7. personally  

    I think he'll have a really interesting perspective, having worked within a notoriously difficult school system and finally made steps toward fixing it. And I'm sick and tired of controversy.

    Though one of the Gyllenhaals or Viggo Mortensen (P '10) would have been cool.

  8. Boring!  

    title says it all...

  9. disappointed senior  

    who the fuck is he?

  10. i knew it  

    I knew it was going to be someone boring of whom I'd never heard. How did I know this? Because most of the alums of this school are boring people of whom I've never heard. That's why I'm over it and all of my fellow CC 08s should be too

  11. Rudolf Rocker  

    If you live in NYC and do not know who Joel Klein is, then you are woefully underinformed. That said, dude kinda sucks. He's a corporate guy through-and-through who thinks standardized test scores are a miraculous educational tool. Call BS.

  12. could  

    they find someone more boring? also, the guy's been doing a pretty shitty job as chancellor too (i'm a new yorker, i follow these things).

  13. FUCK  

    If any of you knew what a disgrace this moron has made of the NYC educational system, you would all walk the fuck out of graduation in protest. The kinds of programs he's implemented and the decisions he's made over the last few years are so idiotic it is beyond words.

  14. whatever  

    dude's a baller. he's no doubt an important person who's done a lot. he'll probably say some interesting stuff. With McCain (now pres. nominee), Fox (who gave a great speech), and Stephenopolous (sp?) before that, I'd say they do a solid job of picking speakers. Haters need to chill.

  15. echo  

    I agree with most of the sentiment above...

    The guy seems like a boring choice.

  16. a little bird  

    I'd rather hear from his (once) hot wife, Nicole Seligman, Radcliffe '78.

    Maybe she'd give away tons of PS3's!

  17. joel klein  

    is a horrible chancellor of education, and even more of a horrible choice for class day speaker. what were you thinking??

  18. CC08  

    Glad not to have another movie star.

  19. joel klein  

    Q: How bad is Joel Klein?

    A: So bad he got Lee Bollinger to publicly defend a professor of Middle Eastern Studies:

  20. rudolph  

    joel klein took me cell phone away.

  21. EAL  

    Certainly, Mr. Klein is not the worst Columbia could have done. We could have had to suffer through a speech by Mark Rudd or one of the other idiotic '68 protesters. Since Klein graduated in '67, it will be good not to have to suffer through any mention of the protests, whose coverage on campus will surely be saturated by May.

  22. not a bad choice

    nice to have a significant city leader instead of some pompous hyped up celebrity (be it political/comedic/entertainment -- i'm looking at you harvard/princeton)

  23. Anonymous  

    My parents are going to be so disappointed.

    Obama, I just thought you should know, you're not spreading hope at Columbia.

  24. great

    At least we're not getting Colbert. His brand of humor is retarded.

  25. Columbian  

    Maybe they intentionally picked someone that has had significant achievements but isn't mega-famous in hopes that he wasn't famous enough to inspire so much protest.

  26. haha

    CC 09 better book someone amazing.

  27. afaf

    Who the hell is he and why the hell did columbia choose him? Are they serious? Fuck this.. Columbia has failed us again

  28. let's face it  

    Joel Klein is actually a really solid choice when you consider the contraints - Columbia insists that the class day speaker be a Columbia alumnus, parent, or faculty member, and won't pay or even reimburse travel expenses. The reason that practically every other college anywhere gets good speakers for graduation is that they pay out the ass for Bill Gates or Nelson Mandela to speak. At least you know that our Class Day speakers actually care, because they aren't getting paid a dime.

  29. sucks to be 08  

    dayum! your ccsc senior class president must not give a shit about you!

  30. problem solved:

    fuck the constraints - they're retarded. I don't give a fuck if they care - I'd just like to see someone I know, not some nobody...

  31. I'd even rather

    have Spitzer. At least people know about him

  32. wikipedia

    says it all: 3/4 of his entry is titled "Criticisms"

  33. HAHAHA  

    "love child of Wallace Shawn and Rudi Giuliani"


  34. also, perspective  

    After about 12:30 pm on May 19th, you will never again give a shit about who was your Class Day speaker. Spend your energy praying for warm sunny weather instead.

    • institutional myopia  

      is why im not giving alumni donations

      • it's not  

        institutional myopia; it's recognizing that who the class day speaker is at the low end of important/memorable/etc. parts of college. There are a lot of things about my time Columbia I'll think back on for the rest of my life, but what Joel Klein tells me and thousands of other people in 20 minutes probably isn't going to be one of them.

  35. the problem

    is that the entire environment on campus is such that any speaker is going to be criticized and lambasted heavily, no matter who they are. A presidential candidate from the right (McCain)? Not interesting enough. A successful actor? Hasn't achieved enough, no name recognition. The entire school is built upon criticizing and tearing down, and I think CCSC factored this into their decision. They wanted to pick someone who would not be heavily criticized; they wanted to create a positive day that people would remember, not one filled with controversy and protest.

    So what do we get? Joel Klein, folks.

    Hope you enjoy the speaker, campus. His selection is on your hands.

  36. alexw  

    I see that George Bluth has escaped from prison.

  37. WHAT?  

    this idea that other schools get good speakers because they reimburse travel expenses is ridiculous.


    do you honestly believe that bill gates chose to speak at harvard because he got refunded $10,000 for his flight and hotel? what the fuck?

    • ummmm  

      did you even read the comment? it's not just travel expenses, it's actual PAY. ok, bill gates was a bad example - but bill clinton, for example, makes a living these days doing this crap. you think bill clinton gives two shits about the graduates of Middlebury College? Nope, last year they just paid him a lot of money to come speak.

  38. William Poole Jr.  

    he is the best speaker ever. harvard does not even get such esteemed guests.

  39. But...  

    Doesn't Harvard get J.K. Rowling?

  40. you guys are idiots  

    joel klein is famous if you care at all about what is actually going on in nyc politics. geez.

    • agreed

      If you guys actually claim to have lived in NYC for the past 4 years you really should know who Klein is. Love him or hate him, you show your ignorance by not even knowing him.

  41. sucks  

    i hate this school

  42. let's

    (try to) make sure this doesn't happen again next year.

    write george krebs and alidad to ask them to make relaxing the restrictions on the class day speaker a campaign issue. maybe there's still hope...

  43. umm  

    RudY not RudI

    Jesus Christ Bwog

  44. cc '08  

    im not too excited about this fella either but i'm a quite relieved that we aren't acting as childish as cc '07 did last year

  45. whatev  

    Darn -- I was looking forward to Hans Blix.

    Now, instead of infamous, we get just plain not famous.

  46. HOTPANTS  

    bring back matthew fox - at least he is pretty to look at and has done something inspiring. anything is better than this hack of a local politician. wtf leave it to the bourgeoisie cc council to lack the connections to bring in a serious speaker.

  47. haha

    columbia gets such dud speakers. it'd be cool to get warren buffett or something.

  48. In other news  

    Is anybody else not at all surprised that Quigley didn't show up for the unveiling. The ONLY thing he has half-committed himself to in terms of face time with his students is class day, and he didn't even show at this.

  49. EAL  

    Are there any Columbia graduates involved in politics or public office outside of New York state or New York City area that we could invite? Aside, of course, from the obvious exception from Illinois. What about newly-minted Attorney General Michael Mukasey? But I guess the fact that he's involved in the Bush administration would be too much for some people.

    I move for reanimating Alexander Hamilton.

  50. hmm  

    anyone else still hoping for lauryn hill? anyone? anyone?

  51. I don't  

    care about his "status" as a politician or a famous person. But it is simply embarrassing to bring someone who is so widely and almost unanimously criticized for his educational policies to a Columbia University graduation, of all places. And you know what? Great speakers don't cost that much money. In HS we got Kofi Annan; another year was Bill Clinton; Jack Welch spoke too. More recently, Conan O'Brien. And believe me, they weren't being paid extravagant sums of money to appear. Getting a great person to speak at graduation just takes a group of people with some intelligence who also happen to know what they're doing. Clearly, CU cannot do this consistently.

  52. Zach  

    A lot of strong anti-Klein opinions. I'd argue that city schools have made quite a turnaround under his regime, despite the fact that teachers don't like him (not shocking).

    I mean, who do you think would be doing a better job? Have you followed the last 30 years of education in New York? Klein's a damn sight better than anyone in recent memory.

    • to be fair

      part of that turn around has been a shut down of many underperforming schools and the fact that you only have to get a 55 to pass nowadays

      however, i agree with you that overall there certainly has been improvement

      much better pick than a conan obrien or stephen colbert would have been

  53. i still say..  

    robert maschio would have been ideal.

    or david paterson.

    obviously barack wouldn't have done it but i do hope he was at least invited.

    • well  

      1) "Are there any Columbia graduates involved in politics or public office outside of New York state or New York City area that we could invite?"

      Sure. There are plenty of Columbia graduates in general. Here's the question: Why don't they come?

      The year Tony Kushner spoke (2004), there was a minor brouhaha because someone was tactless enough to leak it to the Spec that he was the 4th choice that year.

      2)"columbia gets such dud speakers. it'd be cool to get warren buffett or something."

      Refer to above. Buffet is in fact a B-School grad. Buffet was one of the three people who allegedly turned down the class of 2004. (The others were Jon Stewart and Ruth Bader Ginsburg if I recall correctly).

      There's a great quote about hos he got into the school here:

      3) Class of 2009. If you really care about this, talk to your class council. Find out what the problem always is. Then write a spec op-ed on the issue putting everything on the table, and maybe start a campaign to get the rules changed.

      4) Keep in mind, many schools have 2 different speakers - Class Day, and Commencement. Commencement is typically the big name speaker (Gates at Harvard last year), while Class Day tends to be a bit more informal and fun. At Columbia the Commencement speaker has always been the University president. Harvard College's Class Day speakers have included Seth McFarlane, Ali G, etc. Of course last year they got Bill Clinton.

    • well  

      5) "or david paterson."

      David Paterson was the blind Lieutenant Governor no one at Columbia had heard of until the speaker selection process was probably long over. (kinda like probably no one at Columbia had heard of Barack Obama until that speech...) Oh, and the whole just admitted to drugs, affairs, etc, thing might not go over so well.

  54. hrm

    So it's really all about money? How much money do these people want to speak here? Having Joel Klein as our speaker is humiliating. And screw having Bollinger speak for Commencement. Get a star.

  55. should

    have picked Mukasey.

    Would have be a couregeous, admirable pick.

  56. alumnus

    wow you kiddies are shallow tools.

    If you wanted a rockstar commencement speaker, you could have gone somewhere else.

    Why do most of you even apply, then matriculate, then continue your education at a place you obviously hate?

    Don't just say 'the city'. If you got into Columbia, you could have gone to NYU or Hunter College, too.

    • Bethmann-Hollweg  

      That is an awful post. I suspect you may be a moron, and am absolutely shocked you are an "alumnus" of Columbia University.

    • alumnus is a retard  

      no if we wanted a rockstar commencement speaker we would have gone to harvard, princeton, or yale. it was a huge mistake on my part to have attended and spent money in attending this school. this is why they are ranked 1,2,3, perennially and why this godforsaken school will never rise in rankings.

  57. P.S.  

    all the nyc public school kids know him...which means he means something to 20% of the school

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