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Newark Mayor Cory Booker will be Stanford's 2012 Commencement Speaker

Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J., since 2006 and a Stanford graduate, will be the 2012 Commencement speaker at Stanford University.

Stanford's 121st Commencement Weekend, June 16-17, will also feature a Class Day lecture by Larry Diamond, a Hoover fellow and professor of political science and sociology, and a Baccalaureate address by Sister Joan Chittister, author and co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women.

L.A. Cicero Cory Booker

Cory Booker, who is serving his second term as the mayor of Newark, N.J., is leading an urban transformation to help the city reduce crime and spur security, foster economic growth and create an environment that nurtures residents.

Cory A. Booker is serving his second term as the mayor of Newark, where he is leading an urban transformation to help Newark reduce crime and spur security, foster economic growth and create an environment that nurtures residents, particularly families. Booker was first elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.  In April 2010, Newark experienced its first homicide-free month in more than 40 years.

Twenty years ago, Mayor Booker received a BA in political science from Stanford, followed by an MA in sociology in 1992. While at Stanford, he was elected to the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) council of presidents and earned honorable mention Academic All Pac-10 honors in football. Interested then in the challenges faced by urban youth, he operated a student-run crisis hotline, The Bridge, to aid youth in East Palo Alto.

After leaving Stanford, Booker earned a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford, where he was awarded an honors degree in modern history in 1994. He then attended Yale Law School, where he received his JD in 1997.

Booker as mayor

Under Booker’s leadership, Newark has committed to a $40 million improvement of parks and playgrounds through a ground-breaking public-private partnership; doubled affordable housing production; and  transformed the Newark Police Department. That change, together with the deployment of over 100 surveillance cameras throughout the city, has led to Newark setting the nationwide pace for crime reduction.

"Cory Booker, by the relatively young age of 41, has used his education and his passion for service to improve the lives of every citizen in Newark, N.J., and well beyond," said Stanford President John Hennessy. "His leadership and many accomplishments in Newark are serving as a model for urban renewal in troubled places around the globe. Cory Booker also exemplifies the potential of every Stanford graduate to make a profound difference in the world, and I know he will inspire our 2012 graduates to similarly go forth and make positive contributions with their own lives."

"In choosing Cory Booker to give the 2012 Commencement address, the President’s Office has selected an impassioned and inspirational speaker who will be able to relate naturally with Stanford students," said senior class presidents Jack Trotter, Shruthi Baskaran, MK Li and Amy Kroll. "Cory shares a lot of the same values that we do as students, including the importance of real social change and the power of individuals to make a difference.  He was in our shoes 20 years ago, and this speech gives him the opportunity to share with us his perspective and the lessons that he has learned."

Class Day lecture

A tradition at Commencement Weekend for more than three decades, Class Day features a "final lecture" from a renowned Stanford professor. This year, the lecture will be delivered by Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he also directs the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.  Diamond, who is also professor by courtesy of political science and sociology, teaches courses on comparative democratic development and post-conflict democracy building and advises many Stanford students. In May 2007, he was named "Teacher of the Year" by ASSU for teaching that "transcends political and ideological barriers."

Diamond is the founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy and also serves as senior consultant at the International Forum for Democratic Studies of the National Endowment for Democracy.   He has served as a consultant to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and was a contributing author of its report, Foreign Aid in the National Interest. He has also advised the World Bank, the United Nations, the State Department and other governmental and nongovernmental agencies dealing with governance and development. Diamond has edited or co-edited 36 books on democracy. His latest book, The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World (Times Books, 2008), explores the sources of global democratic progress and stress and the prospects for future democratic expansion.

"We believe that Professor Diamond's very timely work on democracy and the rule of law will be of great interest and import and that his perspective on the issues that we will face as graduating seniors will be invaluable," the senior class presidents said. "Professor Diamond is very excited to be addressing the Class of 2012, and we know he will make the most of the opportunity to impart his wisdom to us and our classmates, as well as our friends and family in attendance."

Baccalaureate speaker

Speaking at the Baccalaureate ceremony will be Sister Joan Chittister. An international lecturer and author of more than 45 books, Sister Joan has been given 10 Catholic Press Association awards for her writing. One of her recent books, Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is, was co-authored with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Her current book is Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy.  She writes a regular column for the National Catholic Reporter newspaper and for Huffingtonpost.com.

Sister Joan serves as co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, a partner organization of the United Nations, facilitating a worldwide network of women as peace builders. She has held numerous positions of leadership among women in the Catholic Church, both locally and nationally, including 12 years as prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pa. She has received numerous awards and recognition for her work for justice, peace and equality, especially for women in the Catholic Church and in society. Sister Joan received her master's degree from the University of Notre Dame and her doctorate in speech-communication theory from Penn State, where she was named a distinguished alumna. She was an elected-fellow of St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge University, and is currently the founder and director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality in Erie.

Stanford's 121st Commencement, Class Day lecture and Baccalaureate ceremonies are part of a celebration for graduates, their families and friends, and members of the Stanford community. The Baccalaureate ceremony will be held on the Main Quad and the Class Day lecture will be held in Maples Pavilion, both on Saturday, June 16. Commencement will be held in the Stanford Stadium on Sunday, June 17.

Media Contact

Lisa Lapin, University Communications, (650) 725â??8396, lapin@stanford.edu