U.N. ambassador to address graduates


Speakers for the Class of 2010’s Commencement Weekend include U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, philosophy Prof. Debra Satz and Eboo Patel, a member of President Obama’s faith advisory council.

Stanford selects alumna Susan Rice ’86 to give 119th Commencement address in June

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will address the graduating Class of 2010 at June’s commencement ceremony.

Rice – not to be confused with political science Prof. Condoleezza Rice – received her bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford in 1986 and has since served in multiple capacities under Presidents Clinton and Obama. She will join philosophy Prof. Debra Satz, who will give the Class Day lecture, and Eboo Patel, a member of Obama’s faith advisory council, who will give the Baccalaureate address. The 119th Commencement Weekend is scheduled to begin Friday, June 11.

In a statement, Stanford President John Hennessy likened Rice’s goals to those of the University: “to tackle the most pressing global challenges, including addressing climate change and combating poverty, disease and violence to promote peace.”

Rice was unanimously confirmed as ambassador to the U.N. in January 2009 after being nominated by Obama, for whose campaign she served as a senior adviser for national security affairs. From 1997 to 2001, she was the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and from 1995 to 1997, she served as Special Assistant to President Clinton as well as Senior Director for African Affairs on the National Security Council.

As Assistant Secretary of State, Rice engineered U.S. policy for 48 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa while overseeing 43 American embassies. In 2000, she was the co-recipient of the White House’s Samuel Nelson Drew Memorial Award for distinguished contributions to the formation of peaceful, cooperative relationships between states.

While at Stanford, Rice studied history and was a Truman scholar, graduating with Phi Beta Kappa honors. She then went on to earn master’s and Ph.D. degrees in International Relations from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.

“We are thrilled that Ambassador Rice will return to Stanford to share her perspective on some of the greatest challenges facing the world,” said the senior class presidents in a joint statement. “She is in a position of international leadership with a record of service promoting peace and humanity.”

To select a commencement speaker, the senior class presidents poll their classmates for potential candidates, before bringing those names to the president and provost of the University. The Office of the President has said in the past that speakers should have some connection to Stanford and should be “interesting and dynamic” communicators.

This year’s senior class presidents include Walter Foxworth, Dan Ha, Ansaf Kareem and Aria Florant.

Class Day and Baccalaureate Speakers

Philosophy Prof. Debra Satz, who directs the Center for Ethics in Society, is a recipient of the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, Stanford’s highest teaching award.

“Her classes on ethics and moral justice have inspired many of us, and we are so pleased that our entire class will benefit from her wisdom in our final lecture as Stanford undergraduates,” the class presidents said.

Satz’s research has focused on, among other areas, ethics, equality, feminist philosophy and international justice. Her upcoming book is entitled, “Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Limits of Markets.”

Eboo Patel, a Muslim born in India and raised in Chicago, serves as executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, a nonprofit he founded in 1998 to promote understanding among college students. He is also the author of a Washington Post blog that explores the forces that exist between different faiths.

“We believe Eboo Patel’s lifelong work to encourage religious tolerance and to prompt young people to take action will inspire all of us to make a difference,” the senior class presidents said.

Commencement will take place Sunday, June 13, in Stanford Stadium. The Baccalaureate ceremony and Senior Class Day lecture will take place the previous day.

On their Commencement speaker, the class presidents said, “Every one of us will benefit from hearing how we can similarly go forth and make a difference in the world with a Stanford education.”

Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy ’58 addressed the graduating Class of 2009.

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Devin Banerjee was president and editor in chief of Volume 236 of The Stanford Daily, serving from June 2009 to January 2010. He joined The Daily's staff in September 2007. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @devinbanerjee.