Merkel named Harvard commencement speaker

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel will speak at Harvard University’s spring graduation ceremony, the university announced Friday.

In an emailed statement, Harvard’s president called Merkel “one of the most widely admired and broadly influential statespeople of our time.”

“Over her four terms as Germany’s chancellor, her leadership has done much to shape the course not only of her nation, but also of Europe and the larger world,” President Larry Bacow said. “She continues to play a central role in confronting some of the great challenges of our era, and I very much look forward to welcoming her to Harvard next May and to hearing what is sure to be a memorable address.”

{mosads}Reelected in 2017, Merkel’s fourth term extends through 2021. She has said she does not plan to stand for a fifth term as Germany’s leader. First elected in 2005, the center-right politician is Germany’s first female chancellor.

Last year’s speakers included Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose company now faces inquiries in the U.K. as well as questions in the U.S. over its role in Russia’s interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“My philosophy is very simple: When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, stand up,” Lewis said during his 2018 commencement address. “Speak up, and speak out!”

The university’s announcement of Merkel as its next commencement speaker follows a possible hate crime on the campus. Police are investigating reports from witnesses who say they saw two men topple a menorah on university grounds before fleeing the scene.

“It was really, you know, hateful. He didn’t really care the fact that he was being observed and that there would be witnesses to it,” said Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi, founder and director of Harvard Chabad, the student group that organized the monument. “I wish I could say we’re shocked.”

Tags Commencement speaker Harvard University John Lewis Mark Zuckerberg

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