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We were pleased and excited to learn that Harvard's 346th Commencement speaker will be newly-confirmed Secretary of State Maddeleine K. Albright. Her groundbreaking position as the first woman to head the State Department and her reputation as an excellent speaker make her a terrific choice.
Unlike last year's commencement speaker, Director of the National Institutes of Health Harold Varmus, who did not inspire students' interest, Albright's experiences with foreign policy and her ability to break through the glass ceiling of national government are ingredients for an engaging and important speech.
Albright's appearance at this year's Commencement is even more appropriate given the 50th anniversary of the announcement of the Marshall Plan. In 1947 at Harvard's commencement, then-secretary of state George. C. Marshall announced the U.S.'s recovery plan for Europe in the wake of World War II, creating a turning point in the 20th century. It is perhaps unfair to ask her to make a proposal equal in importance to the Marshall Plan. Nonetheless, the choice of Albright as speaker in rife with historical meaning.
Laying aside the political and social value of Albright's speech, how-ever, we remember that a commencement speaker should be someone whom the graduating class respects. For that reason alone, Madeleine Albright is the right person for the job. In the words of second class marshal John W. Turner '97, "[She] has captured the attention and admiration of our class more than any recent public figure." We couldn't agree more.
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