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Newark Mayor Cory Booker named 2012 Commencement speaker

Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker ’91 M.A. ’92 will serve as the 2012 Commencement speaker, the senior class presidents announced Monday.


The announcement came after the senior class presidents posted clues about the identity of the Commencement speaker as part of a guessing contest on the Class of 2012 Facebook page. The first three clues, which were posted last Friday, mentioned Booker’s birthplace in Washington, D.C., his status as a Stanford alumnus and his appearance in an Academy Award-nominated movie.


Within 22 minutes, a senior had correctly identified Booker. Later clues identified him as a “Twitter power user” and referenced his appearance on the Colbert Report in Sept. 2009.


Booker received his B.A. in political science at Stanford and his M.A. in sociology. During his time at Stanford, Booker was not only named an All Pac-10 Academic Team Football Player, but was also elected to the ASSU Council of Presidents. He was later named a Rhodes scholar, and after attending Oxford University, graduated from Yale Law School in 1996.


Booker’s 2002 campaign for Newark mayor against 16-year incumbent Sharpe James was the focus of the 2005 film Street Fight, which was nominated for that year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary. While Booker lost that year’s election, he would win the position in 2006 after James decided not to run for another term.


Currently serving his second term as Newark mayor, Booker was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in world in 2011. American media mogul Oprah Winfrey wrote about Booker in the magazine when he received the distinction, calling him a “genius.” Winfrey referenced his work reforming Newark schools, including raising $100 million as the result of a gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.


The senior class presidents also announced that Hoover Institute Senior Fellow Larry Diamond, selected by a survey of Stanford seniors, will be the 2012 Class Day speaker. Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun and co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, will deliver the Baccalaureate address.


The 2012 Commencement Weekend will take place June 16 to 17.



— Kurt Chirbas

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