Rutgers Faculty Rejects Condoleeza Rice as Commencement Speaker, School Sticks With Decision


Condoleezza Rice was a oft-used name in higher education; first she was almost Penn State's president, then she joined the College Football Playoff Committee and now she was almost Rutgers' commencement speaker.

According to Inside Higher Ed, the faculty council at Rutgers University voted Friday against the school's Board of Governors' decision to tab the former secretary of state as this year's commencement speaker. Their reasoning was for her involvement in the George W. Bush administration claiming Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in order to invade.

The faculty concluded that Rice "played a prominent role in his administration's efforts to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the existence of links between al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime."

They also said "the lies thus promoted led to the second Iraq war, which caused the death of over 100,000 men, women and children, and the displacement of millions of others."

"As a public institution of higher learning, [Rutgers] should educate its students about past historical events, not pretend they never took place," the faculty argued, adding that the school "should not honor someone who participated in a political effort to circumvent the law."

In a staff editorial, the Daily Targum, Rutgers' student-run newspaper, also disagreed with the choice of naming Rice the commencement speaker.

"The point is, we just don't feel comfortable having politicians as commencement speakers at all," the newspaper staff wrote in its editorial. "A commencement speaker is meant to be someone who has made some extraordinary and meaningful accomplishments in their lives to inspire a generation of college graduates. 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."

However, in a statement obtained by Inside Higher Ed, Rutgers said it will stand by their decision to make Rice the commencement speaker.

"Dr. Rice is a highly accomplished and respected diplomat, scholar and author, and we are excited that she has agreed to address our graduates and guests at commencement," the statement said. "The recommendation for Commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients comes from a Board of Governors committee that is composed of Governors, trustees and other members of the university community."

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