In an email sent earlier today, the Columbia College Senior Class Council announced the withdrawal of the 2022 Class Day speaker, Dr. George Yancopoulos, CC ‘80.

Dr. George Yancopoulos, CC ‘80, has withdrawn from his role as keynote speaker for the 2022 Class Day ceremony, according to an email sent by the Columbia College Senior Class Council to seniors. The Senior Class Council did not provide a reason for Yancopoulos’s withdrawal. This news comes six days after the Regeneron Co-Founder and President was first announced as class speaker. The email from the Senior Class Council can be found in its entirety below.

When Yancopoulos was initially announced as keynote speaker, the Columbia Daily Spectator pointed to controversy surrounding his early access to COVID-19 testing from the Cuomo administration in March 2020, when testing availability was extremely limited state-wide. According to the Spectator, the Senior Class Council has maintained they were unaware of this when Yancopoulos was selected as keynote speaker. 

A press release from the College reports that Yancopoulos “respectfully declined” the offer to speak at Class Day, wishing the Class of 2022 well. In the release, Dean Valentini remarks, “I share George’s regret that he will not speak on Class Day, but know that students should continue to benefit from interacting with him, to experience and understand his scientific insight, innovative entrepreneurship and dedication to improving our lives. We look forward to welcoming him back to campus again in the future.” According to a Columbia College spokesperson, this is the first time a keynote speaker has withdrawn from a Class Day event. 

The Columbia Class of 2022 commencement will be held in person on Wednesday, May 18. At this time, no new speaker has been announced. 

Email sent from the Columbia College Student Council to the Class of 2022 on Monday, April 4 at 12 pm:

Dear Senior Class,

We want to inform you all regarding a change in programming of our Class Day ceremony. Dr. George Yancopoulos has respectfully and regrettably withdrawn as the 2022 Class Day Speaker.

We continue to commend Dr. Yancopoulos for his significant contributions to the Columbia community and global health and we thank him for wishing our class the very best.

We look forward to coming together, in person, on the South Lawns to celebrate this milestone and to hearing Dean Valentini’s remarks in his final year of service as dean. Additional updates on the ceremony will be shared in the weeks to come.


Senior Class Council

This is a developing story. Please reach out to if you have additional information.

Commencement via Bwog Archives