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June 15, 2024

Senior class council near final choice for speaker - Kofi Annan, Queen Noor were among names on original list

By Heather Barbakoff | December 8, 2007

The Senior Class Student Council is in the final stages of choosing a commencement speaker and will announce its selection next week, according to members of the council.

The original list of candidates included such names as Queen Noor of Jordan, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, according to a senior member of the council, who spoke anonymously because the negotiations were private.

"They were non-polarizing people who had made contributions to and had backgrounds in global issues. We wanted to find someone who had a charitable, humanitarian background and they fit that description perfectly," said the member of the council.

Those candidates were ultimately scrapped for various reasons, which the members declined to discuss.

Senior Class President Natasha Singh would not disclose the identity of the final candidate, saying only that he was not on the original list that included Annan and Greenspan.

"We are still in negotiations for who we think the final speaker will be, and if we are able to get them, then we will be happy," Singh said. "I think if we are able to work out everything, and all goes as planned, he will be a great speaker."

Unlike nearly all of its peer institutions, Hopkins does not pay its commencement speakers, which members of the council said severely limits the candidate pool.

"All I can say is in the past four years, people haven't been happy with" the choice of commencement speakers, said Senior Class Secretary Kristina Das. "This year we wanted to get a great speaker, one our classmates wanted."

She said she "certainly would be happy with any" of the potential candidates and was "sure that [other] people will be satisfied with whomever we get, but you can't appease everyone."

The junior class has already begun the search for 2009's commencement speaker. "We're starting early this year; we're just getting organized," said president of the junior class, Prasanna Chandrasekhar.

Recent commencement speakers have included Baltimore Ravens Coach Brian Billick, National Institutes of Health Director Elias Zerhouni and former Vice President and recent Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore.

--Sal Gentile contributed to this report.


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