Following protests from students, former presidential adviser Karl Rove has withdrawn as this year's commencement speaker at a prestigious prep school, the school's headmaster said Monday.

The choice of Rove as speaker for the June commencement at Choate Rosemary Hall had led some students to plan to walk out of the ceremony. Others had sought to bring comedian Stephen Colbert to campus for an alternate speech.

Instead of commencement, Rove now will speak at the school on Feb. 11, headmaster Edward J. Shanahan said. Shanahan said he will deliver the commencement address at the school, the alma mater of John F. Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson.

Shanahan said he had asked seniors for their opinions on the proposed commencement speech and many said they wanted to hear from Rove -- but at some time other than commencement.

He said they also were concerned that outsiders might disrupt graduation if Rove appeared in June.

In an e-mail to students and staff Monday, Shanahan quoted Rove as saying: "I would not want 12 minutes of remarks to be used as an excuse by a small group to mar what should be a wonderful day of celebration for the members of the 2008 graduating class and their families, so I am delighted to instead accept Choate's invitation to speak on campus Feb. 11."

"He was more than understanding," Shanahan wrote to the students. "He was gracious and generous in his thinking about you and 'your day."'

Rove, one of President Bush's most influential advisers, left the administration last year.