Is Lavin the right graduation speaker? Yes: Hammer to rock!

A great deal of concern has come out from the Class of 2012 in regards to the decision for Steve Lavin to give this year’s commencement address.

Last year, it was the decision not to call names that drove students into a fervor. No matter what the decision, not everyone will be happy when the number of students is in the multiple thousands.

That said, there are several reasons why Steve Lavin is a good person to send off this year’s graduates into the real world.

If Steve Lavin wasn’t head coach – and he was asked to speak here – he would be the type of celebrity several students have lobbied for in the last week. Lavin was a big-time coach at UCLA and after that an analyst for ESPN. Since he was named head coach in 2010 – to much media fanfare (something you all want for this commencement) – he’s been a celebrity outside of just Carnesecca arena and Madison Square Garden.

Coach Lavin quickly became a face for the school, something that put us on the map amongst some of the other schools in the city. Basketball
has always been closely associated with St. John’s, and now Lavin is at the heart of that association.

You all wear Lavinwood t-shirts and put up “Hammer the Rock” posters, and because of that, I believe the University chose someone they felt you all would want to hear.

Lavin’s a good speaker, he’s a self-made man who took the initiative to reach out to people he wanted to be like and lived out his dream. Yes, there are similar stories from people outside of this school, but we have a celebrity in this school who lived out his dream.

Some of the speakers from outside of the University that we could bring in would give the same stump speech they would to any other college. We would just be a bunch of faces who may or may not live up to this speaker’s accomplishments.

This was the case in May 2006, when Senator Charles Schumer spoke to the graduating class at Hofstra University. In May 2005, he told the same stories, practically word for word, to the graduates at C.W. Post.

Steve Lavin is not just another face, and certainly not just another speaker. Lavin is an important member of the St. John’s community, and his presence and speech at graduation will be more poignant because of his strong ties to the school, not in spite of it.