New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be the 2013 Commencement speaker at Stanford

Stanford's 122nd Commencement Weekend also will feature a Class Day lecture by computer scientist Mehran Sahami and a Baccalaureate address by alumna and interfaith organizer Valarie Kaur.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be the 2013 Commencement speaker at Stanford University.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be the Commencement speaker at Stanford on June 16. (Image credit: Courtesy of Mayor Bloomberg's office)

Stanford’s 122nd Commencement Weekend, which is scheduled for June 14-16, also will feature a Class Day lecture by Mehran Sahami, associate professor of computer science, and a Baccalaureate address by alumna Valarie Kaur, post-9/11 civil rights advocate and interfaith organizer.

Mayor Bloomberg

As mayor of New York City since 2002, Bloomberg has introduced hundreds of innovative new policies and initiatives credited with revitalizing the economy and improving health, safety, education and the environment for the city’s residents. The mayor’s economic policies have made the city a hub for high-tech innovation and have added private-sector jobs. The information technology company he founded, Bloomberg LP, is now a global multimedia enterprise with 15,000 employees. And he has directed his personal attention to numerous global charitable causes, particularly in the areas of public health and education.

“Stanford is known for its entrepreneurial spirit: We encourage our students to think big, to consider how they can make a difference in the world. So it is fitting that Michael Bloomberg will be this year’s Commencement speaker,” said Stanford President John Hennessy. “Businessman, entrepreneur, mayor, philanthropist – few people have demonstrated his vision and the breadth of his accomplishments. He built a company that is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in the financial news and information industry. As mayor, he has worked to diversify the city’s economy, strengthen its schools, increase access to health care and reduce crime. And increasingly, he has dedicated himself to improving society through his philanthropic efforts. I expect our graduates will be inspired by a leader willing to tackle difficult issues and find innovative ways to address them.”

Senior Class Presidents Steven Greitzer, Arjun Aggarwal, Christine Kim and Will Seaton said: “Mayor Bloomberg will be able to uniquely speak to the Class of 2013 about how to transcend society’s expectations and change the world through the many diverse paths we will pursue after Stanford. Acting in both the business and political world, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has always combined his personal brand of leadership with a staunch determination to be true to his own values and beliefs above all else.”

Bloomberg earned his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and his MBA from Harvard Business School. In 1966, he was hired by a Wall Street firm, Salomon Brothers, for an entry-level job. He launched Bloomberg LP in 1981. Bloomberg won his first election to New York City mayor in 2001, two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was re-elected in 2005 and 2009, and is serving his third term.

Class Day lecture

A Commencement Weekend tradition for more than three decades, Class Day features a “final lecture” from a renowned Stanford professor. This year, the lecture will be delivered by Mehran Sahami, associate professor of computer science and a former Google research scientist.

Sahami’s course Introduction to Computer Science: Programming Methodology is one of the largest and most popular undergraduate courses at Stanford, and often features impromptu guest lectures from Silicon Valley luminaries, such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Sahami’s research interests include computer science education, machine learning and information retrieval on the web. Sahami is associate chair for education in the Department of Computer Science and deeply involved in Stanford’s online learning efforts. He has videotaped many of his course lectures and posted them to YouTube to share globally through the Stanford Engineering Everywhere initiative. Sahami received his BS, MS and PhD degrees in computer science from Stanford.

“Professor Sahami’s enthusiasm and love of teaching have endeared him to the diverse array of Stanford students that have taken a class with him,” the senior class presidents said. “His knowledge of computer science means he can engage graduating students who have seen interest in his field explode during our years at Stanford. Professor Sahami is in a great position to provide perspective to all of us on how we can make impactful decisions in our journey after college.”

Baccalaureate speaker

Speaking at the Baccalaureate ceremony will be alumna Valarie Kaur, an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights advocate and interfaith organizer. She is the founding director of Groundswell, a nonprofit initiative at Auburn Seminary that mobilizes people of faith in social action. Currently a fellow at Yale Law School, Kaur is the founding director of the Yale Visual Law Project, where she makes documentary films and trains students in the art of visual advocacy.

For the last decade, Kaur has combined storytelling and advocacy to lead campaigns for racial dignity, religious pluralism, immigrant rights, prison reform, and LGBTQ and gender equality. Her award-winning film Divided We Fall (2008), with Sharat Raju, earned national attention as the first feature documentary on post-9/11 racism and continues to inspire national grassroots dialogue. As a civil rights advocate, Kaur has clerked on the Senate Judiciary Committee, traveled to Guantanamo to report on the military commissions, filed a landmark immigrant rights lawsuit with her clinic team in law school, and led a high-profile campaign against racial profiling with a coalition in East Haven, Conn.

Kaur first spoke at Stanford’s Baccalaureate as a student speaker in 2003, after being elected by her class. That year she earned bachelor’s degrees in religion and international relations. She went on to earn a master’s degree in theological studies at Harvard Divinity School as a Harvard Presidential Scholar, and a law degree at Yale Law School as a Knight Law and Media Scholar.

“Valarie’s unique as a Baccalaureate speaker, having been the student speaker when she graduated from Stanford a decade ago,” said Scotty McLennan, Stanford’s dean for religious life. “Ever since she’s been a tireless and very effective national advocate for positive interfaith relations and for civil rights, especially in relation to post-9/11 bigotry and violence. We’re very proud to have her as this year’s speaker.”

The class presidents added: “We are excited to hear from Valarie Kaur, because as a Stanford alumnus, she shares and embodies many of the values associated with Stanford students. These values include the power of individuals to make a difference in the face of adversity and the importance of real social change. We believe her diverse background, creative vision and exceptional story will inspire students to pursue their deepest passions in innovative contexts.”

Stanford’s 122nd Commencement, Class Day lecture and Baccalaureate ceremony 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 15. Commencement will be held in the Stanford Stadium on Sunday, June 16.