Nationally accomplished poet and Professor Emeritus Jarold Ramsey will be speaking to the Class of 2001 May 20, their graduation day.

?Jarold Ramsey will be excellent. We?re excited he knows what a Rochester education is ? he?s going to relate to us better,? Senior Class Council President Emily Bones said.

Ramsey was a professor of English and the first director of undergraduate research at UR.

A study room in Rush Rhees Library is named after him in order to honor his long list of accomplishments at the university.

Externally, he has won several honors for poetry and has been published in the journals such as The Nation and Atlantic Monthly.

At the commencement ceremony, he receive an honorary degree specifically designed for speakers whom the university considers worthy.

?The selection of Professor Ramsey I was personally thrilled to hear because he had influenced the lives of generations of students here,? Vice President and University Dean of Students Paul Burgett said.

Ramsey will be coming to speak instead of some recommended alternatives.

?We made four suggestions,? Bones said. ?Not all of our suggestions were internal.?

Ramsey was one of the recommended people who comes from within the university community.

The two external recommendations were director Steven Spielberg and ABC news anchorman Peter Jennings. Associate Provost Lynne Davidson said she put together a package for Spielberg.

?It seemed that he would be interested in a George Eastman House award,? Davidson said.

However, it turned out Spielberg needed to be booked at least two years in advance.

The connection to Peter Jennings was made through a student in the senior class, Davidson said.

However, Jennings was also unavailable.

Associate Director of Student Activities Ann-Marie Algier said Senior Class Council is advised not to choose political speakers and non-academic media personalities as graduation speakers.

The belief is that media personalities will take the spotlight away from the graduates. The greater fear with political speakers is that they will use the occasion to further their own agenda.

UR does not pay its graduation speakers. Davidson explained that seniors do have a discretionary fund that they could use but they have never chosen to do so in university history.

Some seniors are upset about the limited role they have in picking their commencement speaker.

Seniors gave their initial recommendation in the beginning of the school year at the senior picnic. After that, Senior Class Council communicated with the class by e-mail. From the initial list, the council l narrowed it down.

?I don?t want us disrespecting Professor Ramsey, he has nothing to do with this. The rules they have limit the possibilities to only two outside people. The rules need to be changed,? senior James Davenport said. ?Half the class will forget his name.?

Burgett said that at this point there would be no reform in the process. He explained that it would be nearly impossible to please all of the students.

?Paul Burgett and Lynne Davidson are researching other universities to find out what they do,? Algier said.

Some schools such as Princeton University or Brown University always choose their speakers from within the university. UR has no such restriction, but two of the last three years, the graduation speaker has been internal.

?I think that it is important to produce a manageable list ? four is more manageable than 10, but maybe four is not enough,? Burgett said.



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