Attorney General to Be Class Day Speaker?

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Make that two cabinet officials: sources confirm to Bwog that the Class Day speaker will be announced at midday tomorrow on Low Steps, and that discussions are underway with Attorney General Eric Holder, CC ’73 and Law ’76.

Holder, the first African-American attorney general, has previously been Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Deputy Attorney General under President Bill Clinton, and one of three members of President Barack Obama’s vice-presidential selection committee. The two alums were in the news together over the weekend, in fact, when Obama told the New York Times that he disagreed with Holder’s characterization of America as a “nation of cowards” on racial issues. According to Columbia College Today, while in the College, Holder “majored in American history at the College and served as a mentor at a Harlem youth center.” Unlike his boss, who has rarely talked about his time at Columbia, Holder has often returned to Morningside, and was at one point a member of Columbia’s Board of Trustees.  Any questions about the speaker can be addressed to [email protected]

And, to help along the inevitable comparisons, here are some other schools’ chosen speechifyers: Eric Schmidt (Penn), Katie Couric (Princeton), Howard Dean (University of Vermont), Christopher Buckley (Yale), Vice-President Joe Biden (Syracuse), and Oprah Winfrey (Duke).


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  1. Ray  

    Kenneth Cole is still my top choice for Class Day speaker.

  2. beltway lawyer

    seriously, bwog?

    how about 'attorney general of the USA' or 'director of department of justice.'

    beltway lawyer?

  3. An invite

    does not a speaker make....

    Low Plaza, Tuesday 12:30pm

    Perhaps our favorite alums will show up?

  4. cc'09  

    friggin awesome.

  5. senior  

    I heard the speaker was David Paterson

  6. so,  

    who is the official source that confirms the speaker? you guys should come tommorow at 12:30 low plaza to find out.

  7. cc'10

    i think that means obama's still a possibility for us juniors

    • Alum

      Columbia is supposedly trying to get Obama for the main ceremony. Normally the president of the university gives the commencement address, but I'm sure they would break with tradition for a sitting U.S. President -- especially one who is also an alum.

      As I have said before, imho there is no way Obama would appear for any individual CU school's class day. Why should the President of the United States settle for an audience of 5,000 when the same institution will have an audience of 40,000 at a more important event just a few days later? (It's at least possible that he would speak at class day for BC or TC, which are independent from CU and have no bigger ceremony of their own to offer.) It's the main event or nothing at all.

  8. columbia rules  

    oh, i guess he is almost as good as harvard's speaker, bill clinton.

  9. harvard

    hasn't announced yet. Clinton is speaking at three other schools so I doubt he goes to Harvard

  10. bill  

    clinton is played out.

  11. dope  

    and yes it is Eric Holder fo shizzle

  12. wow  

    I would not want my four years at Princeton to culminate in Katie Couric.

  13. wow

    i would not want my four years at columbia to culminate in me thinking they culminated in my class day speaker

  14. I think we  

    win. Even if BC has hillary and Syracuse have Biden, they aren't connected to those schools the way Holder is connected to us. Finally a reason to like the CC-only policy

  15. biden/syracuse law  

    All you need to know about Biden right here:

    "I won the international moot court competition!"

  16. yes.  

    nice omission from the list of comparisons, bwog: let us not forget barnard got hilary.

  17. Hrmph  

    As a graduating SEAS student, I'll reiterate how annoyed I am by school-specific speakers.

  18. ...

    I see where you are coming from but to compare the BC and TC ceremony with the CC ceremony is a weak argument.

    After all, he did graduate CC 1983. And sometimes it's not the size of the crowd but the intimacy of the connection that matters.

    • except...  

      ... Obama has no sort of intimate connection with CC... he hates us...

      I gave up on him speaking a long time ago... Holder is a really great option... much better than years past have been around here...

    • Alum

      My point was not that the President is likely to speak at a BC or a TC commencement. I said only that neither has a bigger ceremony to offer than class day, so no one who was offered the chance to speak there could feel he/she was being sleighted.

      But the people who think Obama will speak to the College alone just don't get it. I'll bet no sitting President has *ever* spoken to anything less than an institution's main commencement ceremony. Besides, honorary degrees (one of the big draws for most commencement speakers, though perhaps not this one) are only awarded at the main ceremony and CU surely wants to give him one.

      You're right that Obama graduated from CC, but that doesn't mean he would consider CC class day on a par with the main commencement. He majored in political science and speaking at a departmental ceremony would get him an even stronger connection with the audience, but it ain't gonna happen.

  19. but...  

    BC & TC do have a larger ceremony to attend... the commencement ceremony. graduates of "all schools and colleges affiliated with Columbia University are warmly encouraged to attend" (from the commencement website).

  20. i dont get it

    The diploma is infinitely more important than the speaker. Why do people care so much? It's always the same recycled stump speech pablum written by a lackey and recited out of a binder, first glanced at on an airplane on the way to the event.

    Columbians should be thankful for fewer politicians seeking facetime at commencement, not desiring more.

    There are many more worthwhile goals than being a scumbag vote-trolling politician.

  21. to be honest  

    I'm sort of glad we got Holder. Obama, until his term is over, will not be able to speak from the heart / divert from his political message. We'll get insincere propaganda. Holder (as he recently showed) is able to speak more freely and he obviously cares about Columbia since he was a trustee.

  22. SEAS?  

    do we get a speaker?

  23. Hmm

    I'd rather have Paterson, to be honest.

  24. ...  

    hahahahaha... katie couric.

    "you know, we really could have cared less about you... but then you interviewed sarah palin..."

  25. CCSC 2009  

    Come to Low Plaza at 12:30 to find out who our speaker is!

  26. boooo  

    not super impressed.

    sorry cc09 for whoever leaked it. was sitting on the steps when you were talking about your anger over a person with a big mouth. good job to the dude who actually made it happen, at least i know it was you and not her.

  27. It's

    nice that the attorney general of the United States is coming to give an address. As others have said though, it would have been far nicer still to get the most prominent alum in the news, just because this was the year in which he really rose to prominence. It stands to reason, one would think, that he would want to celebrate such an accomplishment by returning to give just such an address. The fact that he seemingly shuns all association with this place, as all indications suggest, may say something about his character and personality, and it may also say something very significant about this school. I don't know the details of his experience here, and I certainly don't truly know his character, but this persistent avoidance, on his part, makes one wonder.

  28. Anyway,

    McCain spoke. I think he deserves credit for that. No, he didn't attend Columbia, and perhaps indeed Obama deserves to be duly forgiven on that count, but the aging Republican Senator had no reason to expect anywhere near the reception that the youthful Democratic President would get here-- there were anticipations of protest, as I recall, and several people taped disrespectful signs to their umbrellas on that rainy day-- but he came nonetheless and spoke about the most contentious issue of the day. Obama, rock-star of the world that he is, for whom paeans of praise have been written by untold numbers of faculty and students, is yet unwilling.

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