Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the nation’s top foreign policymaker, will deliver the keynote address at the College of Liberal Arts spring commencement, administrators announced Tuesday.
Albright intends to use the June 14th ceremony as a platform for a major foreign policy address, CLA officials said. The announcement capped a three-week courtship initiated when the State Department unexpectedly approached school officials.
“This is going to be not only a wonderful celebration of thousands of kids getting their diplomas, but also a wonderful occasion to have her here to do it,” said CLA Dean Steve Rosenstone about the address.
Representatives from the State Department notified the University on Friday of Albright’s appearance. They would not comment on specifics of the speech.
The University’s late graduation date and the size of the ceremony attracted Albright to the school.
She was scheduled out of the country through May when most commencements take place, said Tom Trow, an assistant to Rosenstone. She was in London on Tuesday negotiating an Israeli troop pullout from the West Bank.
Rosenstone said Albright’s decision fits nicely with the college’s unveiling of a new Institute for Global Studies. The institute will beef up the international studies major.
Political science professor Martin Sampson III, an expert on foreign policy, said government representatives commmonly use large university commencements for policy announcements.
“I think attracting the Secretary of State to a commencement is a fabulous coup,” he said.
Albright isn’t the only woman of distinction addressing the University this spring. Geraldine Ferraro, New York U.S. senatorial candidate and former vice presidential candidate, will speak at the Law School commencement Saturday.
In 1995, CLA had a major headliner when Hillary Rodham Clinton gave the commencement address, forcing school officials to move the ceremony to Williams Arena. They announced Tuesday that this year’s venue will also be at the basketball arena.
College officials said 1,715 students will graduate this spring. Out of that number, up to three-fourths are expected to walk in the commencement. About 10,000 family and friends of graduates are anticipated; Williams holds 14,000. The event is not open to the public.
Rather than two ceremonies at Northrop, there will be one event in Williams. The new time is 2 p.m. Sunday, June 14.