Tony Blair to headline Class Day

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be this year’s Class Day speaker, the Senior Class Council said Wednesday in an announcement confirming one of Yale’s worst-kept secrets in recent memory.

Rumors that Blair would speak at Class Day first surfaced more than two months ago, but Yale officials said that security concerns forbade their revealing the identity of this year’s speaker until just before the speech itself. The confirmation that Blair would indeed speak at Class Day — scheduled this year for Sunday, May 25 — was not expected until next week, but the Senior Class Council cut to the chase in an e-mail message sent to the class of 2008 on Wednesday afternoon.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair lectures at University College Hospital in London last April. A group of seniors plans to protest Blair's speech Sunday because of his role in executing the war in Iraq.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair lectures at University College Hospital in London last April. A group of seniors plans to protest Blair's speech Sunday because of his role in executing the war in Iraq.

The choice of Blair as the Class Day speaker is a logical one: The former prime minister’s son, Euan Blair GRD ’08, is about to graduate from a two-year master’s program in international relations at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Blair himself will teach a seminar at Yale next fall as a visiting fellow.

“Working closely with the Yale College Dean’s Office and the President’s Office, Senior Class officers decided that Tony Blair would be the ideal candidate to speak at our graduation,” the SCC wrote to students. “One of the world’s most influential statesmen, Mr. Blair’s dedication to public service is an inspiration to us all.”

Blair, 55, served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to last June. Following his departure from 10 Downing Street, Blair has taken up work as an envoy in the Middle East, as a consultant to several financial companies and, in his newest role, as Yale’s 2008 Howland Distinguished Fellow.

In that role, Blair will lead a course on faith and globalization at the Divinity School and School of Management and and will also participate in several public events around campus.

The Class Day ceremony — which will include heightened security and “airport-type screening” at entrances to the Old Campus — is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

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