Arizona Daily Wildcat April 8, 1998
Likins, ASUA renew graduation tradition
When a famous UA alumnus and the leader of NASA come to campus for graduation May 16, they will revive the long-dead custom of commencement speakers - a custom that has included suffering the slings and tortillas of matriculating students.
University of Arizona President Peter Likins, UA administrators and the Associated Students Speakers Board worked together to bring NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin to speak at the morning ceremony and actor and former talk show host Greg Kinnear to speak in the afternoon.
Former UA President Manuel Pacheco has appeared without a guest speaker at past commencements because students have thrown objects, such as tortillas, at commencement speakers they disapproved of, said Jamie Kanter, director of ASUA's Speakers Board.
This year, Kanter wanted the ceremony to be different and fun.
"I am graduating, I'm on the Speakers Board, so why wouldn't I want to work really hard to get a good speaker for my own graduation?" said Kanter, a senior majoring in Spanish and psychology.
Kanter got the go ahead from ASUA President Gilbert Davidson to look for an outside speaker. He chose Kinnear because of the actor's ties with the university.
Kinnear graduated from the UA in 1986 with a bachelor of arts degree in radio and television and also was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.
Kinnear altered his production schedule to attend the ceremony because he wanted to speak, his agent, Arnold Robinson, said.
But while Kanter was negotiating with Kinnear, the administration was working on landing Goldin to speak, Kanter said.
Terence Burke, associate to the president, said that during spring break, Likins consulted with Davidson and decided to invite both speakers - one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
"President Likins is very happy with the choice of speakers," Burke said.
Neither man is being paid to speak, although the university is taking care of their travel expenses.
Kinnear has achieved fame in movies like "Sabrina" and "As Good As It Gets." He also hosted "Later" on NBC and "Talk Soup" on the E! cable network.
Goldin, NASA's administrator since April 1992, inaugurated the Discovery Program, a new class of planetary probes that reduces development time and keeps mission costs to less than $150 million. He also has promoted cooperation with the Russian space agency.
Goldin received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1962 from the City College of New York. He appeared at the UA in December 1996 to discuss the importance of university-based research at a conference that focused on research and technology in the 21st century.