Cosby verbally agreed to be the 2002 Commencement speaker last Friday when he delivered a speech in Memorial Hall as part of the Carolina Union Virtuoso Benefit Series. But a scheduling conflict has prevented the entertainer from returning to campus in May.
"He was so excited. He really wanted to do it," said Senior Class President Ben Singer, who spoke to Cosby and received verbal consent that he would be the speaker.
"The problem is any professional like that doesn't know their own schedule."
Cosby's agent called this week and said that the comedian had already committed to speaking at Haverford College in Pennsylvania on May 19, the day of UNC's Commencement, Singer said.
He said the Selection of the Speaker Committee had ranked Cosby as its top pick, but it now has decided to involve all seniors in the selection process.
Thursday evening, Singer sent an e-mail to the senior listserv, asking for speaker suggestions. Just 10 minutes after sending the message out, Singer had received 20 replies. "I'll be sorting all through the e-mails this weekend and make a comprehensive list," Singer said.
He will then present the list to the committee at its Oct. 4 meeting, when the members will sift through the suggestions.
"First and foremost, we look at academic integrity and then if they've made a big contribution to society," Singer said.
Singer declined to comment on prospects but said he hopes to get a speaker committed on paper as soon as possible.
Singer said the committee will take the time needed, however, to lock down a Commencement speaker who has meaning for seniors. "We want to make sure the senior class can identify with the speaker."
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