The Perils of Picking a Commencement Speaker

The Perils of Picking a Commencement Speaker 1

Ben Margot, AP Images

The former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice opted out of speaking at Rutgers U. after two months of protests over her selection. The tumult that led to her withdrawal is just the latest lesson in the challenges colleges face in choosing speakers.

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close The Perils of Picking a Commencement Speaker 1

Ben Margot, AP Images

The former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice opted out of speaking at Rutgers U. after two months of protests over her selection. The tumult that led to her withdrawal is just the latest lesson in the challenges colleges face in choosing speakers.

Picking a commencement speaker can be fraught with uncertainty. Colleges and universities want stimulating figures who will challenge and inspire graduates, but too controversial a choice can draw an immediate backlash from students, faculty members, and others in the community.

Rutgers University recently found that out with its ill-fated invitation to a former U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, whose selection sparked more than two months of criticism on the campus over her