[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER 1: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to the Cornell University class of 2011 senior convocation. The ceremony is about to begin. It's time to take your seats. Please kindly turn out all electronic devices. We request that you fold umbrellas so that others around you can see.
Please rise and join the Cornell University Glee Club, Chorus, and Wind ensemble in the singing of our national anthem.
[MUSIC - GLEE CLUB AND CHORUS, "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER]
(SINGING) Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming, whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof to the night that our flag was still there. Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
SPEAKER 2: Good afternoon, family and friends, faculty, members of the administration, distinguished guests, and most importantly, members of the class of 2011. My name is Christopher [? Magia, ?] and it is both an honor and a privilege to be among the first to welcome you to the 2011 convocation ceremony and the start of Cornell University's 143rd commencement weekend.
It seems hard to believe that many of us occupied these same seats just four years ago as we were welcomed into the Cornell family by President Skorton at the New Students Convocation Ceremony. Now, after seems like just a short while, we are celebrating our departure from our undergraduate experience on the hill. In less than 48 hours, we will be graduates of Cornell University. And in less than 72 hours, we will have moved out of the accommodations that we have called home for the past year.
We will bid farewell to the hustle and the bustle of Collegetown, the countless hours spent in the depths of Uris Library, coffee at CTB, pitchers at CTB, more pitchers at Rulloff's, and late-night rendezvous at the BrewDog stand in Collegetown. You will have to resort to using watches and cell phones to tell time, as the chimes will no longer toll every 15 minutes of our lives.
We say goodbye to our mentors, to our friends, our landlords, the good and the bad. And many of us will never ever see this much snow again.
Though in spite of all the good-byes, I implore you all to think of this weekend not as a celebration of our departure, but rather as a celebration of our achievements as undergraduates. Members of the class of 2011 have raised thousands of dollars for national charities, won Ivy League championships, implemented fundamental social change in the way that we think about mental health on campus, started new businesses, taking campus sustainability to new heights, and have been recognized with prestigious international scholarships.
As we prepare to enter the world, I am certain that the Cornell class of 2011 will continue to impress. We will go on to become world leaders, philanthropists, professional athletes, distinguished academics, experts in the field of medicine, and captains of industry. So with today marking the beginning of the end of our time at Cornell and as we enter the world, let us never forget that our future good fortune began here at Cornell University. Thank you.
I'd now like to introduce my close friend and president of the class of 2011, Mike Katz, to deliver the senior class address.
MIKE KATZ: Thank you, Chris. Welcome families, friends, and most importantly graduates, it is truly my honor to address you today. Over the past couple of months, I've asked my peers a simple question-- Cornelian-- what does it mean to you? I have heard varied responses, ranging from technical to philosophical, calculated to spontaneous, elite to fratty and even the occasional response that we are willing to climb up a 30-degree hill in 30-degree weather to get a 30 on a test.
I guess it all depends if I asked my classmate on a Friday night waiting in line at The Palms or while in the depths of the cocktail lounge of Uris Library. As a biology and society major, I find it appropriate to address you through my own understanding of the anatomy of a Cornellian. A Cornellian has a heart willing to engage in helping others, in addition to a brain, capable of making dreams become reality. Our heart is not derived solely from individual ambition, but rather our ability to unite as a Cornell community, strong enough to tackle any issue that tomorrow may have in store for us.
Graduates, you come from varying backgrounds and have become experts in studies ranging from art history to zoology. The [? Aggies ?] among us will go on to cure the devastating diseases that plague the world today. Hoteliers will establish the foundation for hospitality for decades to come. Architecture students will take our cities to new heights by reaching for the stars. Engineers will solve the complex issues of our country's infrastructure.
Someone in hum-ec we'll figure out why we revert back to the behaviors of a four-year-old after a night in Collegetown. Arts and sciences students will document the history of our lives through a masterpiece, while another will be an entrepreneur with the next big idea. And [? IOREs ?] will end the NFL labor dispute so that I have something to do on my Sundays.
But there is a commonality among all of us here and make us true Cornellians. Look around you today, and you will probably see a fellow student who looks different than you, speaks different than you, has different ideologies and dreams, and possibly a different bar in Collegetown that they call home. But while on this campus, we stand as one Cornell.
Our differences serve as a microcosm of the world at large, but we learn to embrace each other and work together in a harmonious community. By doing so, we also serve as a model for the rest of the world to learn from in an attempt to achieve peace across the globe. President Calvin Coolidge once said, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. And that persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." Our combination of persistence and passion, our ability to press on when times are tough, to stare adversity in the eye and conquer our obstacles is what defines us as Cornellian.
As we venture into the next stage of our lives as Cornell alumni, I implore you to achieve your own goals while becoming the leaders of tomorrow. You are joining a family of Cornellians that includes approximately 255,000 living alumni, 28 Rhodes Scholars, 41 Nobel laureates, and notable leaders in every industry from all corners of the globe. I challenge you to equal and surpass your predecessors, and leave your own mark on history. Exceed your own expectations. Strive for the next level. I have the utmost confidence that all of our future accomplishments can be boundless.
As Cornellians, I feel that it is our instinct to always travel at top speeds in hopes of climbing the ladder as fast as possible to reach the top. In a world where BlackBerries and iPhones are becoming our new best friends and our discussions today are in preparation for meetings tomorrow, we need to stop and seize the moment. Instead of always becoming nostalgic in regards to the last time we do something that once seemed habitual, I always look to emphasize the firsts we have. This past week has more significant firsts for most of us here today. Some of us had the first time we studied anatomy in the [? stacks ?] without a textbook.
This is the first time I've ever spoken to 30,000 people. And this marks the first time we will graduate college as undergraduates. Mark the milestones in your lives by the first time you do something memorable rather than by the conclusion of a chapter in the book that is our lives. We need to engage in conversation now and embrace today's moments instead of reflecting upon them once they have passed.
I could not have put it any better than Ryan Reynolds in the movie Van Wilder when he said, "If you're always thinking about the future, then you kind of forget about the present." And I am really enjoying the present right now.
Congratulations, graduates. And may you always remember to live the dream, and may we leave the world a better place than we found it. Thank you.
It is now my pleasure to introduce the Senior Class Alumni Co-president, Jeff Stulmaker.
JEFF STULMAKER: Thank, you, Mike. Classmates, it's incredible to think that it's been four years since we started our Cornell career. The time has gone by so quickly, yet we have so much to show for it.
Entire freshmen-floor migrations to the big red blowout have transformed into trips to Rulloff's and The Palms Sorry, Mom and Dad. It's about time you know, despite what I said about my credit-card statements, The Palms is not a grocery store, and Rulloff's is not the dry cleaner.
Our time at Cornell has not just been marked by socializing and involvement in the student organizations that we hold close. The unrivaled faculty and staff at Cornell have shepherded us through four years here, helping expand our knowledge and personal growth. Each of us will leave Cornell with a different experience but shared sense of accomplishment.
To celebrate the sense of accomplishment, over the past semester, we have joined together to thank Cornell through gifts of our time, talent, and treasure. And the results have been nothing short of spectacular. This year, over 900 graduating seniors made gifts back to the Senior Class Campaign. These gifts were punctuated by 60 Ivy Society gifts from students who truly committed to our cause.
We would also like to recognize the ILR School for having the highest participation percentage. Thank you to everyone who participated.
It's also important to remember that our commitment to Cornell does not end tomorrow at graduation. We are Cornellians for life. And there are regional clubs and alumni around the world to welcome you to wherever life takes you next. There are numerous ways to stay involved as alumni, and we hope that you'll continue to support Cornell by attending events like homecoming, September 17; and reunions; volunteering as admissions ambassadors or alumni leaders; and giving back in all the ways that you do.
Now, I am pleased introduce the other co-president of the Senior Class Campaign, Alina Zolotareva, with exciting news regarding our class's lasting legacy.
ALINA ZOLOTAREVA: Thank you, Jeff. This year, our class has worked tirelessly to develop a strong affinity among our classmates and to bring together our diverse interests and talents for a common cause, to give back to our beloved university. In celebration of our four years here and to highlight Cornell's commitment to making education accessible to all, President Skorton is generously allocating $100,000 to endow a scholarship in the name of the class of 2011.
Beginning next year, in perpetuity, one student will annually receive the Class of 2011 Scholarship and be reminded of our class's generosity and service to our alma mater. Our class scholarship is just the beginning of the lasting legacy that, I'm sure, we will leave with Cornell, and I hope it will continue to inspire generations of Cornellians to give back and pay it forward like our class has. Thank you, President Skorton for giving our class this opportunity to support future Cornellians in receiving a world-class education.
Please join me in welcoming the senior-class members from the Chorus and Glee Club as they perform "Dona Nobis Pacem" from Mass in b minor by Johann Sebastian Bach.
[MUSIC - GLEE CLUB AND CHORUS, "DONA NOBIS PACEM"]
[SINGING IN LATIN]
SPEAKER 2: Thank you, seniors, for that beautiful selection.
A national leader and research ethics, board-certified cardiologist, musician, and advocate for the arts and humanities, the university's president aims to make Cornell a model combination of academic distinction and public service. Please join me in welcoming the 12th president of Cornell University, Dr. David J. Skorton.
DAVID SKORTON: Thank you. Before I introduce our very distinguished and exciting convocation speaker, I want all of us to celebrate these Cornell students who have in introducing this today and who have just torn our hearts out with that beautiful music. That's what this is all about-- the Cornell students. Please.
And parents, it's true. The Rulloff's is not a grocery store. It's a hardware store, correct? All right, just to straighten that out. Don't be worried. Welcome again, class of 2011 family and friends, and members of the wider community to this 2011 senior-class convocation, and a first of many congratulations to all of those who will go through commencement tomorrow and the 143rd commencement of this university.
And I want to thank you. Instead of accepting your thanks, I want to thank you, the leaders of the class of 2011, and your colleagues, for leaving such a wonderful legacy because through your accomplishments during your time at Cornell and your generous support of those who follow after you, you will have many, many more deserving students coming to this fine university. And I recognize and thank you for the leadership that you have shown and the things that you have taught me.
The class of 2011 convocation speaker is a person who has shown himself to be independent-minded, unafraid of controversy, and during a crisis of epic proportions, profoundly inspiring. Rudolph Giuliani is known around the world for his bold leadership as New York City's mayor in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He is known almost as widely for his administration's phenomenal success in fighting crime. We are fortunate to have him with us today to share experiences and insights.
This Brooklyn-born grandson of Italian immigrants, Rudy Giuliani was inspired by John F. Kennedy and elected class politician in high school. He graduated from Manhattan College at New York University School of Law, clerked for a federal judge, where he quickly became known as zealous and hardworking. He joined the US Attorney's Office in New York, making a name for himself as an aggressive prosecutor of police-corruption cases. He also gained experience in the Department of Justice in Washington and in private-law practice back in New York.
In 1981, Mr. Giuliani was tapped to be associate attorney general, the third-highest position in the Justice Department during Ronald Reagan's administration. But his talents and zeal flourished even more in his next position as US attorney for the Southern District of New York. Again and again, he achieved convictions of organized crime figures and corrupt officials. He also went after white-collar crime, particularly on Wall Street, where he prosecuted prominent cases.
He lost his first run for the mayor's office in 1989, but came back to defeat the opponent in 1993. He would serve two terms and in that time would do much to turn around a city in trouble. At the beginning of Mr. Giuliani's tenure, New York was running a deficit of $2.3 billion with a shrinking tax base.
Among its citizens, 1 out of 7 received welfare payments, and 1 in 5 was on the city payroll, and crime rates were appalling, often quoting his father's advice, "It's better to be respected than to be loved," Mr. Giuliani was a tough, determined reformer. By 2001, as he near the end of his second term, murder and robbery in New York had been cut by 2/3, rapes were down 46%, police shootings were down 40%. His Welfare-to-Work program had reduced the public-assistance roles, parts of the city had been redeveloped, and property values, again, were rising.
Then came the tragic events of September 11, and Mr. Giuliani's voice was everywhere, calm and eloquent, and informative and firm. "Tomorrow," he said "New York is going to be here. and we're going to rebuild, and we're going to be stronger than we were before."
He worked tirelessly throughout the crisis and pushed the city's institutions to reopen quickly to prove that New Yorkers were undaunted. He offered consolation, personally attending nearly 200 funerals. Time Magazine declared, "Giuliani's performance ensures that he will be remembered as the greatest mayor in the city's history."
After leaving office, Mr. Giuliani became a prominent attorney and an internationally sought-after consultant on issues of crime and security. Although his 2008 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination was not successful, he is often considered a possible contender for state and national offices. We all look forward to the next steps in Mr. Giuliani's remarkable career, and, of course, to the thoughts he will share with us today. Join me in welcoming the 2011 convocation speaker, Rudy Giuliani.
RUDY GIULIANI: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Thank you. Thank you.
I am very, very honored to be the speaker on this 143rd graduation weekend. I did note when I was invited that I'm the first Republican that's been invited to speak. Please. Please.
It doesn't make me feel uncomfortable. After all, I was the mayor of New York City. I was the first Republican elected in 25 years as mayor of New York City. I was the first one to remain a Republican in 75 years.
A few days before I got elected mayor, the second time I ran, I was shaking hands with people in Brooklyn. And I saw this big man, big hands, big smile. I walked up to him and I said, will you please vote for me? He had a big smile on his face, he grabbed my hand, he pulled it close to him, and he said, I wouldn't vote for a Republican mayor of New York City if hell froze over, dammit. I said, thank you, because I couldn't think of what else to say. And I left.
Three days later, I was elected. A month and a half later, I was sworn. In I was in office for one month, February 1, 1994-- I'll never forget it. I was sleeping, and I had the radio on. And the radio announcer awakened me with a very startling announcement. He said, Mayor Giuliani's been in office for one month, and he's already set a record.
I kind of pushed myself up in bed thinking, wow, I set a record. One month. I'm pretty special.
Said, he set a record for the most snow in the month of January in 100 years. And I don't know what Giuliani's response to this is going to be, but there's going to be snow again today.
So I have to admit something. I began having dreams and then nightmares about this man-- hell freezing over, Republican mayor. Maybe he knew something about the divine order of things that I had violated in becoming a mayor.
But here's the end of the story. Last three years I was in office, virtually no snow. Now Al Gore believes this is because of global warming. I think I can make an equally good case, although big Al might be upset about this, that that could be because of Republican policies and programs.
But this is a very joyous occasion, as it should be, because it's a recognition of tremendous achievement and expectation of so many great things that are going to happen for so many of you in the future. But of course, it is saddened by the tragic death of one of your classmates, [? Brian ?] [? Lowe, ?] not even a month ago, who died in a fire. Would have been graduating with you. So if I may, I would like to extend my condolences and sympathy to his family, to his classmates, to all of those who knew him, and to let them know that he will always be in the memory of his classmates, and their prayers, and their support, I'm sure in ways that we can't completely understand will help him, and I believe, having gone through this experience, will help them.
Life is like this. Life offers times of great joy, like a convocation and a commencement, and times of profound sadness, like the death of a young man whose life has been taken away from him. It reminds me of many days in my life, maybe the most dramatic of those being September 11, 2001, which was the worst day in my life and the greatest day in my life-- the worst day because of the horrible destruction, the tremendous evil that was perpetrated. Even just contemplating that evil is hard to understand.
And at the same time, it was a day of some of the most generous, kind, courageous, selfless actions I've ever seen human beings conduct. And it led to a period of time like that, almost like some biblical period, where people who were enemies can lie down with each other-- well, not quite lie down with each other. Can you imagine Hillary Clinton, George W. bush Senator Schumer, and me all on the same stage, agreeing, shaking hands, and hugging each other.
I once saved Hillary Clinton's life. You're shocked. We were on a podium together. Senator Schumer came in and tried to push her out of the way. Did you know he likes to be in the camera?
President Bush was standing here. Governor Pataki was standing here. Hillary was standing here, I was standing there, and senator Schumer came in and pushed Hillary. And she was going to go over that way, and I saved her. Don't tell me Republicans and Democrats can't work together. We can. Just don't tell that story in South Carolina. Otherwise, I will have no chance.
I'm here to talk to you about leadership if I may, and to give you a few ideas on how you can develop yourselves as leaders. And I believe that is very important in the day and age that we live in. Michael Katz said before that people use their BlackBerries and their iPhones so much now. You've got to slow down and stop every once in a while. Boy, that is really, really true.
I don't think we reflect on the fact as to how fast our world now moves. I don't mean the spinning of the globe. I mean, the world of information. We're in an information revolution. People who lived through revolutions don't realize it.
The people who lived through the Industrial Revolution didn't realize they were living through a revolution. The people who lived through the age of light didn't realize the profound changes that would be made, and the world would be brought hours together in the span of less than a century.
Now, the world is seconds apart. If you haven't turned off your BlackBerry, and something happens in China, you'll be able to put up your hand and tell me about it while I'm speaking here, and we can all find out what terrible thing happened or what wonderful thing happened. These are tremendous advances, but they challenge a human being's ability to analyze, to process, to think. And we have to be aware of that.
And it is much more important than ever before that we develop principles of leadership, not only to lead other people, but to lead ourselves through life. And what is the most important principle of leadership? I think the most important principle of leadership is knowing what you believe, having a set of strong beliefs, knowing who you are, knowing what you want to achieve. You can describe this in many, many different ways.
My best example of it is someone I had the privilege of working for, President Ronald Reagan. President Reagan had strong beliefs. He understood what he stood for. He understood what he wanted to accomplish.
Maybe you agreed with him, maybe you didn't. But he understood where he was taking the country. And as a result of that, you knew how to follow him, or you knew how to disagree with him.
But because of that determined leadership about combating communism, straightening out the government's economy, he was able to bring about more change in the 20th century than any other president but one, who was an equally strong leader, if not stronger, Franklin Roosevelt, who shared in common the same characteristic of Ronald Reagan-- strong beliefs-- different politics, different personalities, different challenges, but the same characteristic-- a strong belief in the four freedoms, in the necessity for America to stand for something in the world, in the necessity to deal with the tremendous crushing impact of the depression, even if there were no answers, provide some. And then if they don't work, provide some more.
You could almost define America in the 20th century as first, the changes that Franklin Roosevelt brought about in the first part of the century, and then the changes Ronald Reagan brought about in the second part of the century. And they were the two presidents, above and beyond any others, that liberated human beings.
Franklin Roosevelt saved Europe, saved Asia. Ronald Reagan saved Eastern Europe, destroyed the Soviet Union, broke down the Berlin Wall. Millions and millions live in freedom because of two presidents who had stronger beliefs than most of our others, which is why they have such a important place in the history of the 20th century.
If you want to be successful, have strong beliefs. If you want to be successful, have goals in your life. Don't just aimlessly go through life. Know where you're going. You are going to leave here tomorrow or the next day. You should have an objective.
What do you want to accomplish? When do you want to accomplish it by? Don't let life just float by.
There's a sort of sense that happiness is our achieving all that we can be, or being able to be everything that we can be, using all our talents, making ourselves happy. I believe that's a very, very short-sighted definition of "happiness." I believe the Greek philosophers and educators understood happiness.
You know how they defined "happiness"? They defined happiness as your finding your place in the polis. Your finding your place in the city-state, your finding your place in society. What they meant by that was your finding your way to contribute to others, to making things better. Believe me, particularly with the education that you've received, you will not be happy unless you contribute. You will not be happy until you find your way of contributing to society, whether it's as a scientist, or as a writer, or as a teacher, or as a politician. I know that's a bad word now.
Whatever it is, you have to find within yourself how you are going to contribute. What's your place in society? What's the contribution that's going to be called on from you? And that's why you should be developing a set of goals and things that you want to accomplish and constantly asking yourself, what am I good at? What can I achieve? How can I contribute? That's why public service in any of its forms is such a wonderful thing.
And I've never been more satisfied in my life or happier in the broadest sense than when I was in public service because you feel like you are important to other people. That is an enormously important part of the human psyche. And it is particularly important for young people educated as well as you are. You're driven to that. Don't ignore it.
Second principle of leadership is-- and this is something that united Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt and many, many other great leaders-- to be a leader, you have to be an optimist. Now when I say "optimist," I don't mean somebody just being foolish. I mean someone who is a problem solver.
In fact, even if you don't want to be a leader, you're better off being an optimist. They have more fun. And nobody wants to go to dinner with a pessimist. Believe me.
But just to make the point, if you want to be a leader, you definitely have to be an optimist. Suppose I began my speech earlier like this. Oh, unemployment is very high, not going down-- probably not for a year or two. The debt-- greatest ever. Wow, it's crushing.
We don't seem to know what we're doing a Middle East. North Korea-- wow. Things are bad. Things are very bad, and they're only going to get worse. And there is no hope. None. Follow me.
Nobody followed me. They never do when I do that except one place-- in New York City. There's always a little group that gets up and starts following me. And I figured that out when I was the mayor because New York City has so many people, it just has a higher percentage of wackos.
But people follow hopes, they follow dreams, they follow the fulfillment of dreams. And if you want to be successful, be an optimist. Be a problem solver. Every place I've worked, whether it's law firm, or my consulting business, or as mayor or as associate attorney general, or as prosecutor, I've always tried to develop in the people around me an ability to do something to help them. And you should learn this ability.
I try to teach them, when you come to me with a problem-- please come to me with problems-- but please spend some time thinking of the solution first. If you're going to come to me and say, oh, our adversary just filed this brief, and we're going to lose the case-- I don't know how to answer it, or there's a terrible fire, and it seems like a difficult condition, or we've got this tremendous budget deficit we didn't anticipate-- if you have the time, and we're not in the middle of one of these emergencies that has to be answered immediately, but if you have a few minutes, I want you to calm down, sit down, and think about the solution.
Walk into me and say, there's a budget deficit of $2.3 billion, and here are five good ideas on how to solve it. Or there's a big fire going on, and we've already gotten most of our equipment there, but we're going to need extra equipment. Train yourself to absorb problems and move on to the solution.
Believe me. These are the people who rise in any organization, whether it's a sports organization, a religious organization, a political organization, the army, whatever. I have seen this over 40 or 50 years of being involved in and in charge of all different kinds of organizations. The young men and women who rise to the top are the ones who step forward with the suggested solutions.
Anybody can repeat a problem. It's the creative people who can start thinking and pivot to solution. And that's what it means to be an optimist.
There's a story about a great football coach-- since we're on a football field-- named Vince Lombardi. And the story goes like this. At the end of his career, Vince Lombardi was being interviewed by a reporter. And the reporter said to Vince, Cochetel Lombardi, you won so many big games. How did it feel? How did you feel when you lost?
Coach looked at him and said, kid, I never lost a game. Reporter with stunned. Reporter said, Coach Lombardi, I don't know how to contradict you. You're one of my heroes. But you did lose a game. You lost some important games. You lost a 1980 NFL championship to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Coach looked at him, didn't miss a beat, and said, I didn't lose that game, kid. I just ran out of time. That's the thinking. That's the thinking. That's the thinking you have to have. Think solution.
The third principle of leadership is recognize what courage is, and find it in yourself. People think of courage as fearlessness. They think of it as firefighters, and police officers, and soldiers, and sailors, and Marines, and those brave Seals who captured and executed Bin Laden. They think of them as, well, they're special because they don't have fear. They are fearless.
I'm human. I have fears. So I can't have courage. Well, all of those people I mentioned also have fears. Is there anybody here who has never been afraid? Well, you go see a psychiatrist if you haven't never been afraid because you've never been alive if you've never been afraid.
All those people I mentioned have also been afraid. Question is how you deal with fear. And you can learn something from them. I learned it from firefighters, watching them. How do firefighters deal with fear?
They don't ignore the danger of fire. They put it into the fourth principle of leadership, which is relentless preparation. They prepare to try to reduce the risk. They wear bunker gear, they practice, they stay in condition, they learn new protocols, they critique fires so they can do it better the next time. They take all of that energy that fear produces, all that emotion that fear produces, and they put it into preparation.
I learned that lesson from an alumnus of your school, Lloyd McMahon, who was my first boss. He was a federal judge. And I went to work for him as a law clerk, and he taught me a lesson. The lesson was called "relentless preparation," and it was to be a trial lawyer.
He used to say, for every four hours in court-- for every one hour in court, rather, four hours of preparation. Prepare, prepare, prepare, rehearse everything, go over everything, anticipate everything. Nothing should come as a surprise in court.
He said, and if you do that, when a surprise does come, you'll know the answer to it because it will just be a variation of everything that you practiced. And that lesson helped me the most of any on September 11, 2001 because when I arrived at the World Trade Center, I had no idea how bad it was. I thought it was a twin-engine plane that it hit the northern town. I thought it was a bad accident.
But we had a lot of bad accidents in New York. We had a lot of emergencies-- airplane crashes, high-rise fires, subway derailments, hurricanes, blackouts. New York City is an emergency a month, or maybe a day. So you get used to them, and you have plans for them, and you work on those plans, and you improve them. We had 22 different plans, and we were ready for any emergency until I got there.
And I got below the North Tower, and I looked up. And in one moment, my whole emotions and whole attitude about it had changed in an instant when I saw a man throwing himself out of the 101st, 102nd floor, fleeing the flames behind him. And I froze and watched it. And I said to myself and then to the people around me, this is much worse than anything we've ever faced before. We're going to have to make up our response because we don't have a plan for this.
And I had this uneasy feeling that we wouldn't know what to do. But I couldn't entertain that feeling for very long. Just had to make decisions. We had to evacuate people from the area.
We had to stop people from coming in the bridges and the tunnels because we were afraid that other terrorists would come in and attack us again. We had to get air support because we thought there were more airplanes that would come and hit the Empire State Building, or some of the churches, or some of the universities, or who know what-- who at that point knew what else? We had to bring in generators to light up ground zero. We had to triage the hospitals.
And as I was making those decisions, the words of Judge McMahon came back to me. He said, know if you prepare for everything you can think of, you'll be prepared even for the unknown. And every single decision that I had made came from some plan that we had.
We had plans for evacuation of lower Manhattan in case there was a hurricane and flooding. We had dealt with high rise-fires before and evacuated buildings like that. We had plans for bringing in generators for light up ground zero because of the blackouts. We'd get them from General Electric. We had planned a triage in the hospitals from West Nile virus that we had dealt with for two or three years.
Well, now why did that help me? It helped me because I felt a certain grounding, a certain sense that, gosh, I know what I'm doing-- not 100%, but enough so that at least I have experience doing that. And then I felt even better because I was handing it off to people that knew what they were doing, that could compare it to things they had done when did they weren't under as much pressure as they were that day. And that is the value of relentless preparation. Anything you're going to do, prepare for it.
If you're going to go for an interview for a job, which may be very relevant to some of you, prepare for it. Have somebody ask you the questions beforehand that the interviewer is going to ask you, and see if you can come up with the best possible answer. Gosh, almighty, when presidential candidates debate, they prepare for hours, and hours, and hours, and hours to give the best possible question. You might as well prepare for an interview, or a speech, or a talk. But preparation is the key to helping make you a leader, and the people around you-- helping them to understand what you want from them.
The fifth principle is teamwork. The judge to have another lesson. He used to say to all of his law clerks, when you first want to work for him, what do all federal judges have in common? And you'd say, judge, I don't know. They're all old.
And he'd say, no, no, no. Here's what they all have in common. Every single one of them is either a Republican or a Democrat, but when they get elected, some of them begin to believe that they were selected by God. God put me here, I'm a judge, I know everything, I don't need any help. That can happen to anybody put in a position of authority-- a president, a mayor, a governor, head of a corporation, head of a social club, country club.
If you're in charge of anything or put in charge of anything, here's the question to ask, please remember this-- because you will be in charge of things. That's what you've been educated to do. Ask yourself, what are my weaknesses? What don't I do well?
If you ask yourself that question, and your answer is, I don't have any weaknesses, ask your wife. Ask your girlfriend. Ask your boyfriend. Ask your husband or your children. Believe me. You have weaknesses. And then go find somebody who can help you plug up those weaknesses.
When I became mayor of New York, I knew a lot about fighting crime. I didn't know much about the economy. I had to get good people to help me, but I really had to rely on the people who understood the economy. They had to teach it to me. No matter what you run, there'll be things like that, where you need help. Don't be afraid to ask for it.
And finally, if you want to be a leader, you have to communicate. You have to be able to relate to other people. You have to be able to communicate to them. You have to be able to let them know what you want from them, and they have to be able to let you know what they want from you.
There are a lot of ways to do this. You can do it with statistics and metrics. And I devised all kinds of programs-- Comp-stat programs, and job-stat programs, and all kinds of programs to reduce welfare, to reduce crime, to have better transportation systems. I believe in metrics and giving people feedback. But ultimately, communication is about understanding you're dealing with people.
I have a chapter in my book that's entitled "weddings discretionary, funerals necessary." And what it means is-- it's a lesson from my father. My father taught me it was more important to go to funerals than weddings because people need you more at funerals than weddings.
And I've always translated that into meeting in any organization I'm in, it's more important for me to be there when things go wrong than when they go right. And you should be there when things go wrong in the lives of your friends and people you care about.
There's a very big debate going on right now about our social safety net. How big should it be? How intense should it be? How should Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security, and all the other programs be funded, and to what extent? I think that the disagreements about it get exaggerated. I think all people-- Republicans, Democrats-- everyone agrees that has to be a social safety net.
And the question is, are Republicans right when they say that Democrats want to make it dependency? And are Democrats right when they say that Republicans want to take it away? Fact is, they're both exaggerating, and they should be able to compromise it and work it out.
But if you want a real safety net, do not depend on the government. You know what your real safety net is? Your friends, your family. And you'll have that safety net if you were there for them. If you were there for them when they needed you, will be there for you when you need them. That is true in running an organization, it's true in running a government, it's true in running an army, It's true in running the football team, and it's true in running your life. Care about other people.
So finally, if I could leave you with one of those many messages, here's the one I would leave you with to please remember-- that happiness in life is not just all about your being what you want to be. Happiness in life is you're figuring out how you fit in this big, vast society that we have, how you can make your contribution. When you do, you're going to be very happy in the philosophical and emotional sense. That is so important, and it's something you deserve, and it's something we're entitled to from you because of the great advantages that you've had in getting this great education.
So congratulations to all the graduates, to all of the faculty and administrators. And in particular, I feel a real empathy with all of these parents since I've put three through college-- one Skidmore, one Duke, one last one still at Harvard. Man, it's so good when it's over.
And now they're going to go on, and who knows what they're going to accomplish. But it's going to be wonderful. And you've prepared them for it, and they've prepared themselves for it, and now, they are commencing, taking over responsibility. And we're all going to be better off for it. Thank you very much and God bless you.
SPEAKER 2: Thank you, Mr. Giuliani, for sharing your inspiring words on leadership with us. Hearing your perspective today was especially valuable, as we hope to wonder it one day enjoy the same level of success that you have had. We thank you for honoring us with your presence during this very meaningful time in our lives. In turn, it is now our pleasure to recognize and thank you with the 11th Senior Convocation medallion.
Mr. Giuliani, for your exemplary leadership during one of our nation's most trying periods of time, your strong character, your service to New York City, and more broadly, to the American people, we are pleased to present you with the 2011 Senior Convocation medallion.
If I could ask the audience for one more round of applause, it is Mr. Giuliani's birthday today. And we're so grateful that he could attend. Happy birthday, Mr. Giuliani.
[MUSIC - CHOIR, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY"]
(SINGING) Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Rudy, happy birthday to you.
CHRISTOPHER MAGIA: I would now like to take this opportunity to thank certain individuals who have helped in making today's event successful. First of all, thank you to the 2011 Convocation Committee, which was composed of members of the class of 2011, the student assembly, and diverse leaders from student activities. It was their hard work and diversity of thought that made today possible. And I'd ask that you please stand and be recognized at this time.
Secondly, thank you to the members of the administration and staff, especially President Skorton, Susan Murphy, Tommy Bruce, Steven Johnson, and Corey Earle for their constant support and ensuring the success of this weekend for everyone; to the class of 2011 advisor, Jennifer Davis, who spent countless hours with me planning every last detail of the senior convocation. Lastly, thank you to the class of 2011 for sharing in today's ceremony and for their numerous contributions over the past four years that I've made Cornell the thriving community that we know it as.
On behalf of the Office of the Dean of Students, I congratulate you on your achievements thus far as Cornellians. I hope that you will look back on our time together fondly, and wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors. Thank you, again, for joining us today.
And now, I ask that you all please rise and join the seniors of the university Chorus and Glee Club in the singing of the alma mater.
Far above Cayuga's waters with its waves of blue stands our noble Alma Mater, glorious to view. Lift the chorus, speed it onward. Loud her praises tell. Hail to thee, our Alma Mater. Hail, all hail, Cornell.
Far above the busy humming of the bustling town, reared against the arch of heaven, looks she proudly down. Lift the chorus, speed it onward. Loud her praises tell. Hail to thee, our Alma Mater. Hail, all hail, Cornell.
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The senior class president and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will address students and guests at Schoellkopf Stadium on Saturday, May 28, 2011.
Congratulations, Class of 2011!