Rose Will Speak At Graduation

8 March 2002

By Stentor Danielson
Managing Editor

Charlie Rose, host of his own critically acclaimed talk show on PBS and a correspondent for CBSís 60 Minutes II, will speak at commencement for the Class of 2002. Though many members of the senior class had never heard of Rose, the selection committee is confident that he will deliver a good speech.

"Charlie Rose is, we all think, a wonderful choice," Assistant to the President Jim Leach said.

Rose is the host of Charlie Rose, an interview program that airs nightly on PBS. He has interviewed such figures as former President Bill Clinton, former South African president Nelson Mandela, author Toni Morrison, actress Julia Roberts and rock musician Paul Hewson (Bono).

"Heís one of the great interviewers of all time," Leach said.

Though Rose is well-respected within his field, many Colgate students did not know who he was.

"Who?" senior Missi Decker asked, upon hearing the announcement.

"I think a lot of students were disappointed that we didnít get someone with big-name recognition," senior Kristin VanValkenburg, who had also not known who Rose was, said.

Others were more familiar with Rose.

"I hope he has an all-black background and a large circular oak wood table, so as to create the appearance of his show [at commencement]," senior David Park said.

Studentsí expectations of the quality of Roseís speech were mixed, with some unimpressed and others optimistic or withholding judgement until after his speech.

"Iím pleasantly unenthusiastic," senior Dave Wininger said.

"I think it will be interesting," senior Alex Wood said, but "Iím reserving judgement."

"I just hope heís exciting, but I donít think he will be," senior Cameron Packer said.

"Whether or not heís going to be able to transmit as clear and direct a message as he has through his show in his speech remains to be seen ... only time will tell," said Park.

"We have just a less prestigious repeat from last year ... another stuffy news commentator," senior Elisha McLam said, though she added that she wouldnít judge Roseís speech until she heard it.

The lateness of the announcement left many members of the senior class speculating. Some thought the delay was due to the time involved in arranging a very high-profile speaker, while others worried that the Universityís first choice had not worked out and the committee had been forced to pick a second or third choice from the speakers who remained available.

"I was expecting someone of a little higher caliber," Wood said, adding that he was surprised "to have that long a wait, and then get Charlie Rose."

According to Leach, the time frame for announcing the graduation speaker varies widely from year to year. The amount of time necessary to finalize plans depends on the availability of speakers and connections that the University may have to them.

"Every commencement speaker process starts with a long list," Leach said, noting that Rose had been on the list in previous years.

"I understand that ... he might not be he household name of someone who does the nightly news or was a national presidential candidate or has a hit sitcom," Leach said, referring to past speakers Dan Rather last year, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2000 and Bill Cosby in 1999. "Itís a combination of being well-known and having a message to deliver."

Many students were more concerned about the content of the speech than about the person delivering it.

"I just wanted someone funny, because itís going to be hot and weíre going to be tired," senior Gregg Ellenberg said. He also said he was concerned that the speech would focus too much on how the world has changed since the terorrist attacks in the fall, but "I think itís going to be unavoidable because of the position heís in and the events of September 11."

Wood said he would be happy "as long as he treats it as commencement." Some students expressed concerns that past graduation speakers had messages that werenít pertinent to the occasion, citing McCainís address as being too political and Ratherís speech as too focused on his recently published book.

"I want somebody thatís going to be inspirational," Packer said.

In addition to Rose, honorary degrees will also be given this year to Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh; Mary Frances Berry, chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and a University of Pennsylvania professor of American social thought and of history; E. Virgil Conway, former director of New York Cityís Metropolitan Transportation Authority and John M. Buchanan, pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago.

The selection committee was made up of Associate Professor of Art and Art History Mary Ann Calo, Professor of Psychology Scott Kraly, Professor of History Andy Rotter and Board of Trustees members Charles "Chase" Carey '76, Howard Ellins '73 and Russell Wilkinson '70. Student input was solicited in a survey sent to the class of 2002 last May.

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