Seniors, take note—an actress, a senator, and the president of Estonia are all possibilities for your Class Day speaker.
A list of 17 possible speakers were sent to seniors in an email Wednesday. The lineup includes current president of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves, actresses Julia Stiles and Anna Paquin, and outgoing Senator Judd Gregg.
Also on the list were FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and playwright Terrence McNally.
Columbia College Student Council Senior Class President Sean Udell said that candidates were selected by the Alumni Affairs Office, Student Affairs Office, and the senior class. The 2011 class council is currently running a survey to narrow down the possibilities to a short list of about five people.
Then a group of students, administrators, alumni, and faculty will narrow down the list to the top three, who will be sent invitations by Dean Michele Moody-Adams’ office. Last year, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People president Ben Jealous, CC ’94, made the keynote speech.
Not on the list—United States President Barack Obama, CC ’83. But Udell said there was a concerted effort underway to make this the year Obama returns to campus, despite failed attempts in the past.
Udell said he’d like to push for a University-wide movement to convince the president to speak at Columbia, one that was partly inspired by the student push last year at the University of Michigan to secure Obama as the graduation speaker.
According to Udell, there has been administrative support behind vying for Obama for yet another year, though administrators have suggested that they invite him for Commencement, instead of Class Day.
“The idea of unifying the University around a single mission is rather new, so we are still trying to work out the kinks there,” Udell said.
Ali Krimmer, CC ’11, who is helping with the effort, said that they were planning creative ways to drum up support. Udell mentioned possibly holding events where students write letters or make videos to publicize the endeavor.
Still, Krimmer and Udell are well aware that Obama has turned down Columbia’s proposals on multiple occasions.
“We decided that we really just wanted to make a push for it to see what happens,” Krimmer said.