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President Emeritus Curry recalls favorite commencement
From the pages of The Northeastern University Voice (June 2002)
Version 2

By Joe O'Shea

It was late spring of 1993, and president John Curry and his inner circle were on pins and needles, awaiting word whether Bill Clinton would accept their proposal to speak at commencement.

"I told [government relations director] Tom Keady that if he were ever to hear from the president, come find me, wherever I was," Curry recalled in a recent interview. "Well, I was at the Cabot Gym taking a shower after doing a little road running. Tom burst into the shower, gave me a bear hug and yelled, 'We won!'"

Few moments in Northeastern's history can surpass the Clinton commencement for excitement and acclaim. And few moments in Curry's distinguished career were quite as exhilarating

"For me," Curry said, "it was quite a moment to think of myself as a former Northeastern co-op student, a young kid from Lynn, standing on the stage and waving to an audience while standing right next to the president of the United States."

Prior to the ceremony, Curry recalled, he had the chance to visit briefly with Clinton as they were ushered through the corridors of the Boston Garden by a Secret Service agent.

"He was very interested in basketball, so we spoke of the old Boston Celtics teams and Boston Garden history," Curry said. "Then he asked me, apprehensively, what I thought the reaction to him would be on the part of our student body. I said I think they're going to give you a great reception."

Indeed, the packed house of graduates, parents, friends and honored guests erupted in spontaneous, loud and enthusiastic applause as Clinton, flanked by Curry and two Secret Service agents (in commencement garb), made their way from the rear of the building to the stage.

"I said, 'What did I tell you Mr. President?'" Curry recalled. "And the president said, 'I'm just amazed; this is the best greeting I've received in my entire presidency.'"

In the years that followed, as Curry visited the White House to support the AmeriCorps program and higher education initiatives, he and Clinton built a rapport that lasts to this day.

"I'm not a close personal friend, but we keep in touch about once a year," says Curry, whose mystery novels, "Loyalty" and "Two and Out," have been well received by Clinton. "We've been able to maintain a connection in a positive way."