Rutgers Says Kean to Speak at Commencement, Replacing Rice

Former NJ Governor Thomas Kean
Thomas Kean, New Jersey governor from 1982 until 1990, and a former president of Drew University, will speak at Rutgers University’s commencement ceremonies on May 18, Rutgers President Robert Barchi said today in a statement. Photographer: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

Former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean will deliver Rutgers University’s commencement address later this month, replacing Condoleezza Rice, who backed out after student opposition.

Kean, governor from 1982 until 1990, and a former president of Drew University, will speak at the graduation ceremonies on May 18, Rutgers President Robert Barchi said today in a statement.

Some Rutgers students and faculty opposed Rice’s presence, citing her position on the Iraq War while she served as secretary of state under George W. Bush. In a May 3 statement, Rice said Rutgers’s invitation to her had become a “distraction” for the university community at a time when graduates and their families should be celebrating.

Rutgers, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said it stood behind its invitation for Rice to speak and receive an honorary degree. Kean, who received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Rutgers in 1982, won’t accept a speaking fee for his remarks, the university said today.