Bill Cosby to deliver 2007 commencement address

Popular entertainer Bill Cosby has accepted Carnegie Mellon’s invitation to deliver the keynote address at this year’s commencement, to be held on Sunday, May 20.

“Cosby is a popular speaker and a Pennsylvanian, which makes him an interesting choice for Carnegie Mellon,” said Teresa Thomas, assistant vice president for media relations.

The university strives to choose a keynote speaker who reflects the attitudes and preferences of the entire student body.
“Ideas are solicited from the campus community, and from those ideas a speaker is selected and invited,” Thomas said.

Student responses to this year’s decision were overwhelmingly positive.

“He’s Cosby. Everyone loves him,” said Karl Sjogren, student body president and a senior social and decision sciences major. “I think Cosby will be a great keynote speaker. He’ll be able to deliver a humorous, insightful, and well-intentioned commencement address to be remembered.”

Sjogren and fellow students were excited at the prospect of a “big name” speaker on campus.

“Cosby is an international name; his speech is not something to be taken lightly,” Sjogren said. “Furthermore, the university has now set a very high standard for who a commencement speaker should be.”

“I think it’s awesome Carnegie Mellon is getting more and more famous speakers. It reflects on our school and the recognition as more than just an engineering school,” said Amrut Pati, a senior chemistry major. “It’s a real positive for our school and students. Bill Cosby is one of the few people who built themselves into success coming from nearly nothing. So I’m very excited to hear what he has to say.”

While students may not be aware of Cosby’s credentials outside comedy and entertainment, Cosby, who has a Ph.D. in education, has dedicated much of his time and money to education. Cosby received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 and the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2003. He has also received honorary degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of Cincinnati, and Baylor University.

Cosby has used his talents as an actor and comedian as educational tools, playing one of the lead characters in the children’s television show The Electric Company and creating the cartoon series Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids, a humorous show about a young group of friends facing the challenges of growing up in the city.

Cosby, along with five others, will receive honorary degrees from Carnegie Mellon during the commencement ceremony. Other recipients will be Helen S. Faison, director of the Pittsburgh Teachers Institute; Wilton A. Hawkins, founder of Chemplast and former vice president of Norton Performance Plastics Division; Paolo Lugari, a civil and environmental engineer; Gerald C. Meyers, consultant and professor of management and organization at the University of Michigan’s Ross Business School; and Earl Wild, a classical pianist.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on May 20 at Gesling Stadium.