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The Daily Tar Heel

Cosby Might Return for Graduation

Ben Singer, president of UNC's senior class, said the choice of Cosby as Commencement speaker still needs to be approved by the offices of the chancellor and the provost. But Singer said he was "very optimistic" that Cosby will speak at graduation.

"Nothing has been confirmed, but (Cosby) is definitely being pursued," Singer said. "I talked to him on Friday, and he's excited about the opportunity."

Cosby delivered a speech on campus last Friday as part of the Carolina Union Virtuoso Benefit Series. Union Director Don Luse said he put Singer in contact with Cosby during the visit and that the entertainer consented to Singer's request to be Commencement speaker -- provided that his calendar allowed it.

"Mr. Cosby agreed to do graduation assuming he was available," Luse said.

To schedule a confirmed date, Luse said senior class officials sent an official request letter Monday morning to Cosby's agent.

Jennifer Smith, the marketing manager for the Union, also said she heard Cosby agree to speak at Commencement, but she added that a lot of factors -- most notably scheduling problems -- could prevent the entertainer from appearing.

"I heard Cosby say to a few different people that he would do it," Smith said. "But I can't confirm anything because the difference between him saying he will do it and him actually doing it is big."

Singer stressed that no guarantee can be made on Cosby officially being selected as Commencement speaker until written consent is given by Cosby's agent. "It's all based on someone's word right now," Singer said. "It's still in the early stages and there is a long bureaucratic process ahead."

After beginning his entertainment career as a stand-up comic in the 1960s, Cosby rose to fame on the strength of numerous television appearances and comedy albums. He is best known as the title character of "The Cosby Show," one of the top-rated television programs of the 1980s.

Singer said the Commencement speaker selection committee, which includes students and faculty, decided Thursday to pursue Cosby as its first choice.

Singer said he thinks the familiarity many students have developed with Cosby by watching him on television would make the entertainer a popular choice among the UNC student body.

"I think everyone can relate to Bill Cosby," Singer said. "We kind of grew up with him on TV.

"He's definitely a headliner."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu

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