Columbia engineering finds Bloomberg hard to get
Former mayor Michael Bloomberg was the unanimous choice to deliver the keynote address at the Columbia engineering school’s May 19 graduation ceremony this year, according to a letter obtained by Capital.
The former mayor declined, and not for the first time.
In a letter on November 15, 2013, Dean Mary Boyce wrote, “You may recall that Columbia extended a similar invitation last year but unfortunately your schedule on that date could not accommodate our request.”
According to Bloomberg's public schedule for May 20, 2013, the day of that year's Class Day, he hosted a Jewish heritage reception at Gracie Mansion and subsequently accepted a lifetime achievement award at the New York League of Conservation Voters’ Spring Gala. (The day before he delivered the commencement address at the New York Law School.)
Boyce's letter said she "was not surprised to see that again this year you were the committee's unanimous choice.”
“Your mayoralty has done so much to advance great engineering in the City of New York,” she wrote. “Your participation in this year's graduation exercises would therefore have very special meaning to our students.”
A spokeswoman for Columbia said the former mayor had addressed the campus on a number of occasions.
“As I'm sure you know, scheduling far enough in advance is always a challenge, especially with high profile figures and alumni,” wrote Columbia's undergraduate spokeswoman Katherine Cutler in an emailed statement.
“During his term in City Hall, Mayor Bloomberg was a regular speaker on campus, sometimes addressing events and forums multiple times in a single year,” she added.
A spokesman for the former mayor said that he receives many such invitations every year and cannot make them all. The spokesman also noted that the former mayor has spoken at Columbia numerous times in recent years, and also addressed Barnard College's Class Day in 2008.
Columbia's 2014 engineering graduates heard from alumnus Jon Oringer, founder of Shutterstock.
Bloomberg spoke at Harvard a few weeks later.