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Rutgers Teachers, Students Upset Over Commencement Speaker

Teachers and students at Rutgers University are upset at the choice of former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as this year’s commencement speaker.

  Former US secretary of the State and professor Condoleezza Rice
Former US secretary of the State and professor Condoleezza Rice (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for TIME)

The Rutgers Board of Governors chose Rice unanimously last month according to the Star-Ledger, citing “her commitment to public service and diplomacy, and contributions to academia.”

The Rutgers New Brunswick Faculty Council, however, passed a resolution asking the Board to reconsider its choice because “Condoleezza Rice … played a prominent role in the administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.” According to New Brunswick Today, the resolution said that such a degree “should not honor someone who participated in a political effort to cirgumnavigate the law.”

In an editorial, the student newspaper Daily Targum also called Rice an “awesome” choice as being a “woman of such high status” but cannot “ignore her controversial career” and recalled a student protest when she delivered a keynote address on campus. The paper editorialized it would rather not have any politician as the commencement speaker.

“Rice probably has a lot of advice on perseverance, dedication and hard work that she can offer to this year’s graduating class, but what she chose to do with those qualities is certainly questionable to us,” the editorial reads.

Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth) posted a statement on her Facebook page criticizing the council’s criticism as “appalling and embarrassing.” She hailed Rice as a “trailblazer and a woman of extraordinary intelligence and diverse talents who has spent most of her career in academia,” noting  she was the “first woman and first African-American to serve as provost of Stanford University.”

Rutgers will also present former trustee chairman Gerald C. Harvey and noted enviornmentalist Richard Leakey from Stony Brook University with honorary degrees.

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