Yale has invited a plethora of famous alumni to help celebrate the University’s second tercentennial weekend in April, but in the current issue of Time magazine a Yale official questioned one of the choices.
A tercentennial staffer told Time that administrators are worried about having invited former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73 in light of the controversy surrounding his choices for pardon. Clinton is the focus of this week’s Time cover story, “The Incredible Shrinking ex-President.”
The report did not identify the Yale staff member, who told Time that the University was nervous about its invitation to the president.
“We hope it blows over by then,” the staffer told Time. “He is an alum, so there’s not much we can do.”
University Secretary Linda Lorimer said Clinton was invited to speak at an April 20 panel discussion titled “Creating Economic Property” alongside Yale President Richard Levin, Yale Corporation fellow Janet Yellen GRD ’71 and former Secretary of the Treasury Robert E. Rubin LAW ’64. Lorimer said Clinton has not formally accepted the invitation yet, and the University is very hopeful that he will attend.
Clinton’s representatives said the former president would not decide whether to come until four to six weeks before the event.
Time reported that Clinton is dragging down Democratic Party fund raising for reasons such as his pardoning of fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose wife Denise made large contributions to Democratic causes. The former president has been dogged by criticism for granting 120 pardons on his last day of office, including a pardon to his half-brother Roger for a 1985 drug conviction. Clinton wrote a piece in Sunday’s New York Times defending the last-minute pardons, in which he said pardoning Rich and his business partner Pincus Green was done “in the best interests of justice.”
Lorimer said the staffer’s comments to Time do not reflect the administration’s views.
“This is ridiculous and wrong,” Lorimer said. “I know for a fact that President Levin’s letter to President Clinton was hand-delivered to President Clinton.”
But Levin’s invitation to Clinton was delivered well before the recent controversy spawned by the pardons granted by the former president upon his departure from the White House.
Tercentennial Director Janet Lindner said she was surprised by the statement and that she had “no idea” who said it or why it was made.
“I don’t think any of my staff would speak anonymously to the press,” Lindner said.
Associate Dean Penelope Laurans, who is planning the second tercentennial weekend, was also surprised by the Time contents.
“I’m speechless,” she said. “At no meeting was that ever said.”
If Clinton comes, he will not be the only big presence on campus on the weekend of April 19-22. Former President George H.W. Bush ’48 is speaking on Saturday afternoon about Yale and public service. Yale also invited President George W. Bush ’68 and Sen. Joseph Lieberman ’64, but administrators are not sure if they will attend.
The April celebration is the second in a series of major celebratory weekends for the tercentennial. The spring event is geared towards alumni who have actively served Yale.