NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) - Rutgers University says former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean will deliver the commencement address at this month’s graduation ceremony.
The announcement came Monday afternoon, two days after former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had backed out as the speaker. Her decision came after protests by some faculty and students over her role in the Iraq War while she served in the administration of President George W. Bush.
The school’s board of governors had voted to pay Rice $35,000 for her appearance at the May 18 ceremony. She was also due to receive an honorary doctorate.
Rutgers officials say Kean will not accept a speaking fee for his remarks. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Rutgers University in 1982.
Kean served as New Jersey’s 48th governor, holding the post from 1982-1990. He also co-chaired the national 9/11 Commission and was president of Drew University from 1990 to 2005.
“Gov. Kean’s career as a public servant, educator and statesman speaks to the civility, integrity, and vision that we hope will guide our graduates as they pursue their careers or further their studies,” Rutgers President Robert Barchi said in making the announcement.
Barchi and other school leaders had resisted the calls to disinvite Rice, saying the university welcomes open discourse on controversial topics. But he said school officials respect her decision.