Rutgers University has announced that former NJ Governor Tom Kean will be replacing former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a commencement speaker. The decision came after students and faculty members protested against Rice for her part in the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
When the university’s Board of Governors chose Rice to be the speaker in February, a petition against her immediately circulated saying that she had a major role in misleading Americans “about the presence of mass destruction in Iraq.”
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The protests came from the same university that hired Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of Jersey Shore to speak on campus in 2011. Rutgers University even paid her $32,000 to do it.
In a statement on Rice’s official Facebook page, she said that commencement exercises should be a time for celebrating for both the graduates and their families. However, “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”
Kean, Rice’s replacement, will be delivering the commencement speech on May 18 at the High Point Solutions Stadium.
According to Robert Barchi, Rutgers President, they made the decision to choose Kean as they hope that his vision, integrity, and civility “will guide our graduates as they pursue their careers or further their studies.”
Kean was a governor for New Jersey from 1982 up to 1990. After his time in office, he became the President of Drew University for more than a decade. He also served as a co-chair for the national commission that looked into the 9/11 attacks.
Reports say that Rutgers University will be saving some money by choosing Kean. Rice was supposed to take $35,000 for the commencement speech, and Kean will be taking nothing. He also will not be getting an honorary degree, as he was already given an honorary doctor of laws degree from the university back in 1982.
Rutgers University said that they are expecting around 40,000 people to attend this year’s commencement exercises.
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