Bloomberg to Speak at Commencement


New York mayor Michael Bloomberg will speak at Penn’s 252nd Commencement on May 19.  A well-known businessman and philanthropist, he launched his political career with a successful 2001 bid for New York City’s highest public office.  He is credited with reducing crime and creating jobs in the city, while starting a series of ambitious environmental and public-health initiatives.  Time magazine put him on its list of the 100 most influential people of the year in 2007, noting he has “cut the murder rate, banned smoking and trans fats in restaurants, centralized the public school system, created a coalition of mayors to keep illegal guns off the streets, and developed an extensive plan to make the city more environmentally friendly before the end of his term.”

A member of the boards of many charitable, cultural, and educational institutions, he also helped build the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.  The Chronicle of Philanthropy listed him as the seventh largest individual contributor to philanthropic causes in the United States last year, noting that Bloomberg pledged $205 million to 1,100 nonprofit groups that focus on the arts, education, health care, and social services.

Mayor Bloomberg has a reputation as a political centrist, adopting a mix of liberal and conservative stances on a broad range of issues, from pro-business fiscal conservatism to support for abortion rights and gun control.  Initially elected as a Republican, he registered as an independent in 2007 during his second term.

Penn President Amy Gutmann said that Bloomberg’s “remarkable achievements as a highly successful entrepreneur, noted philanthropist and tireless public servant stand, in the tradition of Penn’s founder Ben Franklin, as an inspiration to us all.”

Six other honorary degree recipients will join Bloomberg, including Grammy Award-winning musician Paquito D’Rivera and current Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust G’71 Gr’75. —Yashas Vaidya C’09

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