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Commencement Speakers at Last for Rutgers, Pasadena

May 6, 2014

Rutgers University and Pasadena City College both now have confirmed commencement speakers -- following controversy about the actions of administrators in handling past invitations to speak.

Rutgers was scrambling because Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, withdrew on Saturday amid growing student and faculty protests over her selection. Rutgers announced that Thomas H. Kean, a former New Jersey governor and former president of Drew University, would appear. While some critics of the Rice selection questioned naming anyone who had a career in politics, Kean is unlikely to draw the same opposition. He is a Republican, but was known in office for working well with Democrats, and for being a strong advocate for education. He has served in numerous bipartisan or nonpartisan roles over the years. He also announced that he would speak for free. Rutgers has been criticized (and not just when the funds were apparently going to go to Rice) for paying $35,000 for graduation speakers.

Pasadena City College meanwhile announced that Dustin Lance Black, an alumnus who is a screenwriter and won the Academy Award for "Milk," had accepted an invitation to speak there. The college has been the subject of widespread criticism by students and others for disinviting Black after an earlier invitation was extended. But he has accepted a second invitation, apparently one that will last. "It’s time to move forward and put the focus where it should be — on the students,” Black said in a statement released by the college.



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