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Former N.Y. mayor Bloomberg tapped as Harvard commencement speaker

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks to reporters after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and business and civic leader
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks to reporters after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and business and civic leader

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will address this year's crop of Harvard University graduates at their May 29 commencement, the Ivy League university said on Wednesday.

Harvard officials said they chose Bloomberg, a Boston native who earned his M.B.A. at Harvard Business School, because of his unique career, ranging from building the data and news company that bears his name to elected office.

"Mike Bloomberg's career represents a rare blend of public leadership, private-sector entrepreneurship and powerful philanthropic engagement," said Harvard President Drew Faust.

Bloomberg served three terms as New York mayor, first elected just months after the September 11, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Center.

A former Democrat who changed his party affiliation to Republican for his first run and later declared himself an independent, took on a number of public health issues during his time in office, including cracking down on smoking in public and an ultimately unsuccessful bid to ban the sale of large sugary drinks.

Bloomberg has also been an advocate for gun control, forming lobbying group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Forbes this week estimated Bloomberg as the 16th wealthiest person in the world, worth some $33 billion, and his vast personal fortune made Bloomberg less dependent on corporate donations than most other U.S. politicians.

Since leaving office, Bloomberg has been named United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's special envoy for cities and climate change.

Bloomberg follows a list of boldface names from politics, the arts and business to speak to graduates of the nearly four-century-old university. In recent years, speakers including media impresario Oprah Winfrey, "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling and Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates, have addressed graduates at the school's leafy main green just outside Boston.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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