Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Saturday morning that she will not deliver the commencement address at Rutgers University, after some students and faculty protested her visit.
“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families. Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time,” Rice wrote in a Facebook post.
“I am honored to have served my country. I have defended America’s belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas. These values are essential to the health of our democracy,” she continued. “But that is not what is at issue here. As a Professor for thirty years at Stanford University and as it’s former Provost and Chief academic officer, I understand and embrace the purpose of the commencement ceremony and I am simply unwilling to detract from it in any way.”
“Good luck to the graduates and congratulations to the families, friends and loved ones who will gather to honor them,” Rice concluded.
The school’s board of governors had voted to pay the former secretary of state under President George W. Bush and national security adviser $35,000 for her appearance at the May 18 ceremony.
But some students and faculty protested, saying Rice bore some responsibility for the Iraq War as a member of the Bush administration.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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