Madeleine Albright to Headline HKS Graduation

Former Secretary of State Madeleine J.K. Albright will be the speaker at the Kennedy School of Government's graduation this year, Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf announced Thursday.

Albright was the first woman to serve as the United States’ Secretary of State when she was appointed in 1997. After four years as ambassador to the United Nations, President Bill Clinton tapped Albright as the country’s top diplomat, where she served until the beginning of 2001.

Now a professor of international relations at Georgetown University, Albright pursued an interventionist style of foreign policy during her tenure as Secretary of State, once famously asking General Colin Powell, who succeed her, "What's the point of you saving this superb military for, Colin, if we can't use it?"

In a press release, Elmendorf described the former Secretary as “a remarkable public servant whose decades of work on behalf of world peace, security and justice should serve as an inspiration to us all.”

“We are elated that she will deliver the Graduation Address for the HKS Class of 2016,” he said.

Kennedy School students largely seemed excited to have as their graduation speaker such a prominent figure in the field of politics and public service.

“She is of a stature that is exciting,” Loren D. Newman, a student at the Kennedy School, said. “Speakers in the past have been policymakers who aren’t necessarily in the public eye.”

In particular, Newman was happy that Albright is someone his family, who will be attending his graduation, can recognize.

“[My mom] knows who she is, and my grandmother knows who she is, and that’s really exciting,” Newman said.

Tommy A. Flint, a Kennedy School student, said he was “pleasantly surprised” and excited that they got “a big name” to speak at graduation.

“She can offer commentary of value about public service,” he said. “I’m glad that we have someone very closely related to our study.”

Eddie D. Grom ’12, currently enrolled in the Kennedy School, also was “excited” that HKS was able to get Albright to agree to speak.

“One of things that is amazing about the Kennedy School is the high profile people that speak here,” he said. “People who make a change in the world. She really fits that bill.”

This year, the Kennedy School’s commencement will takes place from May 23 to May 27, with Albright slated to speak on May 25.

—Staff writer Nathaniel J. Hiatt can be reached at nathaniel.hiatt@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @nathaniel_hiatt.

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