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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Jordan to Speak at Commencement

By Marcella C. Davison

Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-Tex.) will be the speaker at the Harvard Alumni Commencement exercises June 16, a spokesman from the Associated Harvard Alumni (AHA) said yesterday.

William G. Young '62, president of the AHA, expressed enthusiasm at the choice, saying the association wanted someone who would have "something important to say that alumni and students would be challenged to hear."

Put Down

Last year Jordan turned down an invitation to speak at Class Day exercises. This year, Harvard is the only school Jordan accepted, Bud Myers, administrative assistant to Jordan, said yesterday, adding that several schools have approached her with commencement requests.

Young said the AHA's selection of Jordan was made in consultation with the Harvard and Radcliffe senior class marshals.

Representatives from each House solicited suggestions for commencement speakers from seniors and compiled a preference list that the marshals presented to the alumni, Felicia Marcus '77, Radcliffe senior class marshal, said yesterday.

In past years many students avoided alumni commencement exercises in the afternoon, preferring to attend only the morning exercises when President Bok and President Horner speak, Marcus said.

Crowd Pleaser

"The alumni association wanted to get someone students would come back to listen to. In a way, they are trying to encourage seniors to become active alumni the first chance they get," she said.

Jordan received national attention for her participation in the Nixon impeachment hearings as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

She was a keynote speaker for the 1976 Democratic National Convention.

Before last year, the alumni association did not make public its choice for commencement speaker until commencement day because they chose the speaker from the list of recipients of honorary degrees, which is not released until the morning of commencement day.

Young said the AHA changed the selection process because the association wanted to allow the senior class to participate in the selection.

Recent commencement speakers included Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) in 1976 and Ralph Ellison, a black American writer, in 1974.

President Bok will make his annual report on the state of the University at the afternoon exercises. Young will report on elections of Overseers and on reunion class gifts to the Harvard College Fund and is presiding over the ceremony.

Senior activities planned by the Class Committee include a lobster clambake, a moonlight cruise along Boston harbor and a double-header for seniors at Fenway park with the Boston Red Sox facing the Milwaukee Brewers, Marcus said.

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