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President Clinton to speak at MIT Commencement June 5

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 21 -- President William J. Clinton will make a major address before the graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the MIT commencement exercises on June 5, the White House announced today.

MIT President Charles M. Vest said, "We are honored and delighted that President Clinton has selected MIT as the place to deliver a major address to people who will be leaders of the 21st century. The future will be shaped in large measure by advances in science and technology, and MIT is the home of many of the people making those advances. We look forward to the President's address and his vision."

The opportunity to have President Clinton address the graduates developed over the past few days, as the White House established its plans for this year's commencement addresses by the President. A spokesman for MIT said the White House contacted President Vest's office Friday to discuss it, and President Clinton's offer was accepted by Dr. Vest after he consulted with Dr. David D. Ho, who had been invited in February to be MIT's commencement speaker. Both President Clinton and Dr. Ho will address the more than 2,000 graduates who will receive their degrees in June.

Dr. Ho, the scientific director and chief executive officer of the largest private HIV/AIDS research center in the world, the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York, commented, "I am deeply honored to speak to the graduates of MIT and even more so, to share the podium with President Clinton."

Dr. Ho, who in 1996 was named Man of the Year by Time Magazine, overturned the conventional assumption that the HIV virus remains dormant for up to 10 years in a person before its outbreak into AIDS. His recognition that the virus is extremely active right from the beginning of infection led him to initiate the deployment of a combination of drugs to overpower the virus.

Dr. Vest commented, "Dr. Ho's work demonstrates the critical importance of science to the solution of problems such as AIDS that plague our society. His work should remind us all of the great benefits America reaps from opening doors, institutions and opportunities to immigrants. We are proud to claim him as a graduate of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology."

MIT commencement speakers in the past several years have included Kofi A. Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations (1997), Al Gore, Vice President of the United States (1996), Hanna H. Gray, President Emeritus of the University of Chicago (1995), and His Highness The Aga Khan (1994).

About 10,000 people -- graduates, family, friends, and MIT faculty and staff -- will attend the ceremonies, scheduled to be held in Killian Court, located between the Great Dome of MIT and the Charles River. Because President Clinton's address will be an additional element in the ceremony, Dr. Vest will forgo his usual charge to the graduates, but all other aspects of the program will remain the same.

For the latest information, check the MIT Commencement web site.

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