New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will deliver the convocation address to this year’s graduating seniors, the Class of 2012 Convocation Committee announced Wednesday.
Bloomberg has forged close ties to the University since Cornell entered, and won, the mayor’s high-profile competition to build a new tech campus in the city. Representatives from both entities say that New York City and Cornell will grow increasingly entwined through CornellNYC Tech, which is expected to take 30 years to complete.
During the tech campus competition, Cornell administrators said that the University’s future is inextricably bound to the the city’s. Since Cornell’s bid was chosen in December, President David Skorton has made several public appearances with the mayor and praised Bloomberg’s vision for the city.
Bloomberg’s selection marks the second straight year a New York City mayor was chosen to speak at convocation, which will be held this year on May 26. Rudolph Giuliani, Bloomberg’s predecessor, delivered the address to the Class of 2011.
A University statement issued Wednesday did not say if Cornell’s NYC tech campus influenced the decision to bring Bloomberg to campus. Instead, it trumpeted what it identified as campus-wide enthusiasm for the mayor.
“Overwhelmingly, students from all parts of the University supported Mayor Bloomberg to be the class’s speaker,” the press release stated.
Additionally, in the statement, convocation chair Harris Nord ’12 highlighted the personal appeal of the septuagenarian media mogul.
“Bloomberg is not only a distinguished public official, but he is also a highly successful entrepreneur and a leading philanthropist,” Nord said. “His words will certainly inspire many of our graduates to strive for success after graduation.”
Although now in his third term as the city’s mayor, Bloomberg began his career in the business world. He earned an engineering degree at Johns Hopkins University as an undergraduate before receiving a master’s in business administration at Harvard Business School, according to The New York Times.
After working at the investment bank Salomon Brothers, Bloomberg launched the financial information firm “that revolutionized Wall Street and transformed him into a billionare,” The Times reported. That company, Bloomberg L.P., has helped make the mayor the 8th richest man in the America, according to Forbes.
Now in his 10th year as mayor, Bloomberg faces opposition to much of his remaining agenda, especially after his decision to run for a third term proved unpopular with many city residents. By August 2011, he received his lowest approval rating in six years, according to The Times.
In February 2011, Bloomberg began soliciting proposals for a new applied science campus in the city, offering free land and other incentives to attract top-ranked universities. Cornell jumped at the opportunity partly, according to The Times, because the University had long hoped to expand to New York City.
Several media outlets, such as The New York Observer, reported that the mayor viewed the tech campus — and now, by extension, Cornell — as a “way to redeem his legacy after a fraught third term in office.”
At the press conference announcing that Cornell had won the tech campus on Dec. 19, Bloomberg said it made sense for the University, given its history, to construct the new campus.
“Some 150 years ago, Cornell was established through the U.S. government’s land grant program to promote advancements in agriculture and engineering … That program helped propel America to become the world’s most innovative economy,” Bloomberg said. “I think it really is appropriate that one of the original recipients of that historic land grant is receiving the new land grant to help us drive the 21st century economy.”
“Their success will be our success, and our success will be their success,” Bloomberg said, speaking of the connection between Cornell and New York City.