Mayor Eric Adams and more announced as Commencement 2022 speakers


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Jaeden Pinder and Britni Dunn

Mayor Eric Adams was announced as the 2022 Commencement speaker on April 25 and will receive an honorary degree as a Doctor of Humane Letters. Alongside the mayor, Baroness Ariane de Rothschild and Representative Grace Meng will also be honored at the ceremony on May 16 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens. 

Adams won the mayoral race on July 6, 2021, and assumed office as the 110th mayor of New York City on Jan. 1, 2022. He is the successor of Bill DeBlasio, who served eight years as NYC’s mayor. His candidates included Kathryn Garcia, Maya Wiley and Andrew Yang, the latter two who were eliminated from the race before the final round of voting, where Adams won 50.4 percent of the votes.

Adams’s campaign ran on the promise of being NYC’s first “blue-collar” mayor. His platform’s three main concerns were public safety, the city’s economy and education. Adams stated: “The prerequisite to prosperity is public safety and justice. If the city is not safe, if we don’t bring down gun violence, gang violence, if we don’t bring down those crimes, then our tourism will be impacted.”

“Businesses would be impacted. We can’t get employees back into the office spaces because people are afraid to ride the subways,” Adams said.

Before becoming mayor, Adams served as a NY Senator from 2007-2013, Brooklyn Borough President from 2014-2021 and as a police officer for the NYPD for over 22 years, from 1984 to 2006. 

Adams’s main goals since assuming office include being harder on crime and uniting the city he claims is divided. In the short time he has been in office, Adams has faced backlash for many of his policies, including a zero-tolerance policy regarding homeless people sleeping on MTA subways. He has cleared out over 300 homeless encampments throughout the city since April 6. 

Despite his goals, Adams’s tenure thus far has been marred by an influx of crime. Less than 10 days into his run, an apartment fire in the Bronx killed 17 people and injured 44 on Jan. 9. On April 12, Frank R. James opened fire and set off smoke canisters into a Brooklyn subway on the N train, injuring 29 people. Adams was diagnosed with COVID-19 a day earlier and responded to the attack virtually while in quarantine.

The University website biography for the mayors reads “[Adams] gives voice to a diverse coalition of working families in all five boroughs” and that “he is working to reduce inequality, improve public safety and build a stronger, healthier city that delivers for all New Yorkers.”

The Pace Press asked graduating students what their feelings were about Adams’s appearance at commencement and were met with mixed reviews. 

University student Eli Chazin stated “I’m excited the University will welcome Mayor Adams as one of their speakers! I’m interested to hear what advice he has for rising graduates and what issues he is going to address.” 

University Alumna Shae Donnelly (‘21) shared their thoughts after hearing Mayor Adams would be speaking at graduation. “As an alumnus of Pace, I remember them talking at all of the new students and first-year events about how it was one of the best schools in the nation for upward mobility.” 

Donnelly continued, “Many of the people I met came here for the generous scholarships. I came here partly for the faculty and students’ commitment to social justice values. At a time when our country is experiencing immense wealth inequality and low income and homelessness, New Yorkers are being targeted by the NYPD on Eric Adams’s orders. 

“Inviting him to speak at a university that supposedly prides itself on helping low-income students change their lives is immensely disappointing and against what drew me and so many others to Pace in the first place.”

Some students have created a petition to ban Adams from attending 2022’s Commencement, citing that his politics do not align with the student body’s values.

Baroness Ariane de Rothschild and Representative Grace Meng were also announced as speakers. Rothschild, an alumna of the Lubin School of Business (‘88 BBA and ‘90 MBA) is a financier and philanthropist, best known for being the first woman to run a Rothschild business. 

Representative Grace Meng serves New York in the sixth congressional district, specifically serving Queens since 2013. Born and raised in the borough, she has advocated for the elimination of the word “Oriental” and other pejorative terms from federal law and seeks to “expand opportunities for communities of color, young people, women and small businesses” according to the University’s biography of Meng. Graduating student Victoria L. Rooney, studying Public Relations, is also set to speak during Commencement. 

The 2022 Commencement ceremony is the largest in University history, honoring the classes of 2022, 2021 and 2020, and will be the University’s first-ever combined ceremony. With a change in venue and three different graduating classes, this year’s commencement has been highly anticipated and is sure to be a day packed with activity.