New York Gov. George Pataki ’67 has accepted the invitation by the Senior Class Council to speak at Class Day on May 26.
Pataki called University President Richard Levin’s office Monday to accept the offer, said Philip Greene, the senior class activities advisor.
Liz Oosterhuis ’02, the senior class treasurer, said Pataki’s connection to Yale and his enthusiasm about the University is one reason the Senior Class Council is excited about having him come to campus.
“We thought it would be good to have someone who is part of Yale and who also has a global importance,” Oosterhuis said. “[Pataki] loves Yale so much … He told President Levin, ‘There’s no greater honor than to speak at a Yale Class Day.'”
Levin was not available for comment Tuesday.
Farrin Anello ’02 said she thinks Pataki’s message will be pertinent given the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and their aftermath.
“I may not agree with all of his politics, but, given that he is the governor of New York, I think he’s a pretty relevant person,” Anello said.
Risa Berkower ’02 disagreed, saying that she doesn’t think Pataki’s position as governor of New York makes him a good choice.
“I’m really disappointed because I don’t think he’s very relevant to Yale. I guess he was a graduate, but he’s not the governor of Connecticut … and not everyone thinks that New York is the center of the universe,” Berkower said. “It seems strange that they wouldn’t be able to get anyone more prominent.”
Berkower said she had hoped former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani would come to campus.
“Giuliani would be amazing. I’m sure he has a lot to say, and a great message, whereas Pataki … he took a back seat, and I think he did a pretty lousy job,” Berkower said.
But Libby Smiley ’02, a former president of the Yale College Council, said she thinks the combination of Pataki’s ties to Yale and his role in the events after Sept. 11 gives him a unique perspective.
“I think Gov. Pataki will be great,” Smiley said. “I know that the Senior Class Council has been doing their absolute best to bring a dynamic speaker for Class Day, and I fully respect their choice.”
In the fall survey of more than 600 seniors, Pataki ranked high on the list of people the seniors hoped to be able to draw to Yale, Senior Class Secretary Ravi Paidipaty ’02 said.
“After Sept. 11, he just showed such tremendous leadership that turned him into a national figure,” Paidipaty said. “I just think it’s kind of appropriate that exactly 25 years ago he was a graduating Yale senior, and he’s been where we’re going to be in May.”