I mentally write this column as I sit through yet another college graduation ceremony—one of many I have participated in over the last 39 years. Former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, was invited to give the commencement address at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York recently. The president of St. John Fisher College should be congratulated not just for his choice of Giuliani, but for actually landing the Mayor as commencement speaker. Having spent 39 years in higher education I can attest to what a struggle it is to secure a big-name speaker for the commencement address—someone the graduates will remember for a lifetime.
Unfortunately, few college graduates can even recall who their commencement speaker was or what that individual had to say, which makes my point about how difficult it is to land a really good graduation speaker. Having heard Mayor Giuliani speak on more than one occasion, I can attest to the fact that—regardless of what one thinks of him—his speeches are always memorable. The Mayor is refreshingly honest, straight forward, and frank. Giuliani does not beat around the bush or water down his speeches with politically correct mush-mouthing. He will tell you what he thinks without concern for whether you want to hear it or not.
Consequently, one would think the faculty of St. John Fisher College would have been delighted to have Mayor Giuliani as a commencement speaker. He is an internationally known figure, former mayor of America’s largest city, and was once a viable presidential candidate. But none of this means anything to the narrow-minded faculty members of St. John Fisher College. “Delighted” is hardly the sentiment expressed by left-leaning professors concerning this distinguished American speaking at their graduation ceremony. In fact, knowing the state of higher education in American you would have to be from another planet to think a college faculty would be delighted to hear an outspoken conservative deliver the commencement address or any other kind of speech for that matter.
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