BREAKING: SEAS Class Day Speaker is Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, SEAS ’82

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Ursula Burns, SEAS '82

Bwog has just learned that the Ursula Burns, SEAS ’82 (MS in mechanical engineering) and the chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation, will be the featured speaker at the 2012 engineering school class day. Burns is the first African-American woman to chair a Fortune 500 company, according to an article published by Spec. The same article asserts that this was the first year SEAS undergraduates were involved with choosing their class day speaker, a process in which Columbia College undergraduates have taken part for several years, as well as the first time graduate students will be invited to attend the event. With regard to the invitation, the ultimate decision-making power rested with SEAS Dean Feniosky Peña-Mora.

Spoiler alert! It should come as no surprise that someone as prominent as Burns will not be delivering her first graduation address this spring. Last year, she was the commencement speaker at MIT, and here’s the text of her speech. Here’s a link to her corporate bio page at Xerox, which fills in some interesting professional details, including her other board of directors positions and some work in the Obama administration on the President’s Export Council.

SEAS and unaffiliated Columbian busybodies, what say you?

Photo Credit to Lonnie C. Major via Xerox Corporation


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  1. SEAS '12

    I bet her speech is a copy of another speech.

  2. What do Columbia engineers

    say to their parents when their parents expect them to get a 100K job after graduation?

    SEAS-ier said than done!

    • what do cc non-econ and ~50on majors  

      say to their parents when their parents expect them to get a job after graduation?
      "sorry, i studied something completely useless and im gonna probz have to teach high school/go to grad school"

  3. Anonymous

    I bet her speech is a copy of suck.

  4. omfg  

    She totally has the same hair stripe as Pena-Mora

  5. Anonymous  

    "Bwog has just learned..." = "Bwog just read on Spec that..."

    Gotta love Bwog.

  6. Barnard '12

    This woman is great. I had secretly hoped she would be our Barnard speaker, but SEAS is also a great pick for her.

  7. Oooh...  

    How... Exciting....

    As long as the CC/Commencement speaker can evoke any sort of basic emotion out of at least half the audience, (s)he is guaranteed to be more interesting than the CEO of an office machinery and supply company. This just reeks of the mundane middle-class 9-5 monotony, miserable in its utter mediocrity, through which so many Americans slave in a state of existential despair towards their genuinely unhappy and unfulfilling, yet inescapable, lives.

    SEAS students, you've been warned: this is nothing short of the reification of the corporate. Your happiness is on the line!

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