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IOP Head Alan Simpson Will Address Seniors

Former senator steps in to fill Class Day void

By Victoria C. Hallett, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

Alan K. Simpson's original job was to help members of the senior class committee find the perfect Class Day speaker.

The director of the Institute of Politics and former Republican senator from Wyoming wasn't supposed to give the speech himself.

But after working unsuccessfully for nine months to acquire the likes of former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell and septuagenarian-astronaut and Ohio senator John Glenn, the committee tapped Simpson, a visiting lecturer and Eliot House resident, to deliver the June 9 address.

And while some seniors said they were disappointed by the choice since the speaker is such a regular figure on campus, Simpson promised a speech that would surpass everyone's expectations.

"It will be about humor, things that are real," he said of his speech. "It will be a good time to reflection musings of 67 years on topics as diverse as politics, education and family."

Simpson said he plans to discuss how "humor is the universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life" and promised to reveal some secrets about his own life.

"I might share some of my checkered past--and there is some," he said.

As an added bonus, Simpson, who delivered his first commencement speech in 1967 and has addressed the graduating classes of Colorado College, Notre Dame and American University, among others, said he promises to avoid preaching and excessive length.

"Any longer than 12 minutes and you lose the audience," he said.

Nicholas K. Davis '99 and Jante C. Santos '99, who are both class marshals, led the six-member subcommittee that selected Simpson.

After asking seniors for suggestions, the committee compiled a list of potential speakers and used the connections Simpson has acquired over his political career to bring them to Harvard.

But when those top picks fell through, committee members said Simpson became the natural choice for the job.

"Of course he's not everybody's first choice, but he's done an incredible number of things," said Davis, who is a Crimson editor.

Still some students said they are disappointed by the choice because of Simpson's regular presence on campus at the IOP.

"I get to speak to him at dinner," said Christopher Lowell '99, a neighbor of Simpson's in Eliot House. "I was hoping for someone more in the news and funny."

Others said that after the University announced last month that Alan Greenspan--head of the Federal Reserve Board and one of the most influential people in the world--would deliver the June 10 Commencement address, they were looking forward to having a less political speaker.

"In terms of both graduation and Class Day, Iwas hoping for someone with less of a politicalagenda, maybe someone in the arts," said Clare VanEenwyk '99.

But Radcliffe First Marshal Tally Zingher '99said students should be pleased to hear Simpsonexpand on the speech introductions he regularlydoes.

"He's usually the moderator, but here he'll beat the center," Zingher said.

Santos said Simpson, with a life involvingpolitics and education, has a fascinating lifeperspective to offer students.

Davis said the committee is also pleased withSimpson because he understands the significance ofClass Day.

"He seemed happy to do it and appreciate whatthe event is," Davis said.

Santos said Class Day is a time when seniorscan escape the more regulated, ceremonial aspectsof Commencement and have a more emotionalexperience.

Class Marshal Kimble Poon '99 said the speakerdoes not play the most important role in theoccasion.

"I think people are going to be hyped up aboutClass Day anyway," Poon said. "It's the lastinformal day we'll all be together."

Class Day will also feature three studentspeeches--a Harvard speech by a male student, aRadcliffe speech by a female student and ahumorous Ivy Oration by a student of eithergender.

A group of senior singers from a cappellagroups will present the class ode, a parody of thesong "Fair Harvard" specifically geared to theclass of '99.

Previous Class Day speakers have includedformer Massachusetts Governor and father of DavidM. Weld '98, William F. Weld '66; music producerand father of Rashida Jones '97, Quincy Jones; andNBC news anchor Tom Brokaw

"In terms of both graduation and Class Day, Iwas hoping for someone with less of a politicalagenda, maybe someone in the arts," said Clare VanEenwyk '99.

But Radcliffe First Marshal Tally Zingher '99said students should be pleased to hear Simpsonexpand on the speech introductions he regularlydoes.

"He's usually the moderator, but here he'll beat the center," Zingher said.

Santos said Simpson, with a life involvingpolitics and education, has a fascinating lifeperspective to offer students.

Davis said the committee is also pleased withSimpson because he understands the significance ofClass Day.

"He seemed happy to do it and appreciate whatthe event is," Davis said.

Santos said Class Day is a time when seniorscan escape the more regulated, ceremonial aspectsof Commencement and have a more emotionalexperience.

Class Marshal Kimble Poon '99 said the speakerdoes not play the most important role in theoccasion.

"I think people are going to be hyped up aboutClass Day anyway," Poon said. "It's the lastinformal day we'll all be together."

Class Day will also feature three studentspeeches--a Harvard speech by a male student, aRadcliffe speech by a female student and ahumorous Ivy Oration by a student of eithergender.

A group of senior singers from a cappellagroups will present the class ode, a parody of thesong "Fair Harvard" specifically geared to theclass of '99.

Previous Class Day speakers have includedformer Massachusetts Governor and father of DavidM. Weld '98, William F. Weld '66; music producerand father of Rashida Jones '97, Quincy Jones; andNBC news anchor Tom Brokaw

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