Rice backs out of Rutgers Commencement
May 3rd, 2014
12:58 PM ET
4 years ago

Rice backs out of Rutgers Commencement

(CNN) - Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is backing out from delivering this month’s commencement address at Rutgers University in New Jersey after her slated appearance resulted in protests on campus about her Iraq War record and controversy within the community.

“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” Rice said statement posted on her Facebook page Saturday. “Rutgers' invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”

State lawmakers, students and faculty had called on Rice’s invitation to be rescinded numerous times since the University announced her selection.

In a resolution sent to the University’s governing board in February, the Rutgers University New Brunswick Faculty Council argued that a public institution of higher learning should educate its students about past events and “not pretend they never took place.”

“Condoleezza Rice, as National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, 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,” the resolution said.

Republican New Jersey Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini criticized their protest in a statement, calling it “appalling and an embarrassment to our state.”

The school newspaper, The Daily Targum, published an editorial also condemning the selection, saying that while it is impressive that the University was able to recruit such a high-level official to address the students, they “can’t really ignore her controversial career.”

According to the school newspaper, nearly 100 students congregated during a Rutgers University Senate meeting Friday to question the University President about the issue and to protest.

The University had stood by its selection of Rice amid the controversy, with a spokesman telling New Brunswick Today in March that, “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."

Rutgers President Robert Barchi said in a statement in response to Rice’s withdrawal that while they respect her decision, the University still fully stands by her invitation and that further details about the commencement will be announced in the coming days.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reacted to Rice's statement tweeting, "As usual a class act by a great public servant."

Rice congratulated the future graduates and wished them and their families luck in her statement.

As a professor of thirty years and university official, Rice wrote, she “understand(s) and embrace(s) the purpose of the commencement ceremony” and is “simply unwilling to detract from it in any way.”

The former Secretary of State was set to receive $35,000 and an honorary doctorate for her address.

Filed under: Condoleezza Rice
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. ED1

    Again another example of the minority of students (Liberals) control the school what a shame for the majority of students again and again this happens everywhere.

    May 3, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. Lonnie

    But no issue having anyone from an administration that uses drones to kill American citizens, uses the IRS to obstruct political opponents, and consistently lies to the public about their "signature" achievement, Obamacrap.

    May 3, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. bill

    it is the left's WAR ON BLACK WOMEN-how racist can the left get??????

    May 3, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Gunderson

    First you get a degree then you degree and then go out in the world and get an education Condoleeza has an education. Hearing her would help those "Students" get an education a lot sooner.

    May 3, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. MaryM

    ANY association with the W. Bush administration will be met with destain. No matter what your credentials are.

    May 3, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. MaryM


    May 3, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. rla

    The ugly – racist progressive/liberals strike again- Rutgers and their Ivy League breathern show what they are with this demonstration f intolerance... When the libs whine because of how poor leader Obama is treatened just remember this insult to a brave, intelligent Black woman who happens to be unafraid to show the body of work that marks a really smart person compared to one who hides his record and lies as if it is his right

    May 3, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. yolanda

    Congratulations to the "progressive" students who demand tolerance of all things they believe in, yet show their lack of maturity and fairness by being unwilling to accommodate anyone or thing that does not fall into their narrow view of "correct". Shame on Rutgers for caving to these jerks.

    May 3, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  9. stingerhp

    A person with a brain, honesty, integrity, common sense and a purpose in life....

    May 3, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Interesting that no news outlet is reporting the fact that while Dr. Rice was ousted from speaking at Rutgers–she will be speaking at the commencement ceremony for Walden University, a for-profit whose mission is positive social change.

    May 3, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  11. Chris-E...al

    She would make a great prez shes not a worm brain sweet lipped Attention wanting pop star !

    May 3, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. jeffro

    These students are standing up for what they believe, that self serving agendas propped up by lies have no place in a Democracy. How many died and were wounded while the country continues to rack up debt for these adventures. Look at Iraq today! Was it worth it?

    Just try googling all the chicken hawks who are constantly calling for a new war and see how many of them were draft evaders thru deferments. It always seems that these "patriots" are willing to send somebody else off to fight, die, and do the things that they are either afraid of doing or consider themselves too "blessed" to do.

    May 3, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. ja

    The woman was an accomplice to war crimes based on the lie of wmd's, unless we forget,

    May 3, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. K

    I am not an American, but I am surprised that there are people justifying this brazen blackout of free speech. Who is going to decide whether someone has a right to speak or not. Was Ms. Rice going to speak about the war, or about her life story to the students, many of them have not faced anything that she had had to face. She overcame many challenges to rise to a position she did.
    If the war was really the reason you are stopping her, what about thousands and thousands of people being killed right at this moment by this administration by drones. No need to worry about those people since they are being killed by the favorite party of Professors?
    what is happening to America? May be people do not realize how great this country is because of its staunch protection of free speech (not any more probably). They should walk out into the world to know the difference.

    May 3, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. J

    Muslim driven objection from 150 students and left-wing faculty leads to Ms. Rice withdrawing... pathetic. Are you also standing up and voicing your whining opinions against muslim terrorism, oppresive treatment of women and children, and other predominantly digusting elements of Islam?

    As a Rutgers grad I am immediately discontinuing my annual $10k contribution to the University and encourage other benefactors to do the same. I am ashamed to be associated with Rutgers.

    May 3, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. Dan

    There are two well mirrored extreme groups in this country: one on the right and whenever they raise voice they are shut up by others, under the claim they are dumber than anyone else, and one on the left, and whenever they raise voice they shut up the others, claiming to be smarter than anyone else. The truth is however......

    May 3, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. J Anthony

    The hypocrisy of you people boo-hooing over poor Condi is typical. Her accomplishments mean little in the face of the damage she helped to inflict upon our country, as well as overseas. You all seem to be in complete denial that she did anything wrong, the same way Obama-loyalists have a hard time acknnowledging his mistakes. Not one of you seem to mind when a Dem gets protested by foaming-at-the-mouth Teapartiers with guns.. That kind of freedom-of-speech is ok,right?

    May 3, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  18. George W. Bush

    I'd like to thank you all who are supporting Condi. Sure, she helped send over 4,000 US troops to the slaughter, based on lies that dick and I made up, And it cost a few trillion to do it, but you all hate liberals so much that you willing to look past that. And I thank you.

    May 3, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  19. Gonzo

    Commencement ceremonies belong to the students. Why should they be forced by the University to have a speaker they don't want?

    May 3, 2014 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  20. Santiago

    What makes me sick is that people get paid for receiving an honour, and should be the other way around.

    May 3, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. Chuck

    Progressive Nazis, the Hippie generation has become Nazis

    May 3, 2014 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  22. Thomas

    Where was Dick" Cheney giving the commencement address ?

    Rice saved us from a mushroom cloud that came in the shape of a pizza ?

    May 3, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  23. Richard in Houston

    Thousands killed by drones right now ? Really? Where were all of these people defending Condi when Hillary had to back out of a commencement. Crickets ! At least the reason against Condi was honest. They objected to her involvement with the Iraq war. Hillary they made the lame excuse they did not want to take the day away from the students. How lame. If that were true no commencement would ever have a speaker.

    May 3, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  24. Richard in Houston

    Free speech alive and well K. The students and faculty spoke. Nobody came and arrested them and hauled them off. Oh and RLA this has nothing to do with the fact that she is black but thanks for playing the race card.

    May 3, 2014 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  25. Eagle1

    Simply embarrassing and a slap in the face to the students and parents of Rutgers. Ms. Rice showed extreme class in stepping out even if it was only a 50 students and a few wacked out professors hell bent at teaching their versions of history. Lets us not forget that the Iraq resolution was passed by a solid bi-partisan vote along with 20 or so other nations. The justification was openly shared and debated in public across the globe. A lie is when you design something and justify it by telling the people a known falsehood. That did not happen in Iraq but it is happening now.

    May 3, 2014 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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