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Rutgers faculty protest Condoleezza Rice as commencement speaker

Rutgers University professors and students are crying foul over the school's decision to invite former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to speak at this year's commencement ceremony.

Rutgers' New Brunswick Faculty Council passed a resolution last week calling on the university's board of governors to rescind its invitation to Rice, who will receive $35,000 and an honorary doctorate for the speech, The Star-Ledger reported.

The resolution said Rutgers should not honor Rice because of her role in the war in Iraq and the Bush administration’s policy of "enhanced interrogation techniques," such as waterboarding, the report said.

"Condoleezza Rice ... played a prominent role in the administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction," the faculty resolution said.

Some students have also criticized the university's decision.

"Do the positive aspects of her personal accomplishments really outweigh the destruction of war she contributed to during her political career? She was a major proponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which has been arguably the worst and most destructive decision in the history of U.S. foreign policy," The Daily Targum editorial staff said in a recent op-ed that called Rice's selection "questionable."

Rice served as provost at her alma mater, Stanford University, before serving as President George W. Bush's national security adviser and secretary of state. In 2006, some students turned their backs as Rice addressed graduates and received an honorary degree at Boston College.

Republican New Jersey Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini criticized the Rutgers faculty group for protesting Rice's selection, calling the protest "appalling and an embarrassment to our state," The Star-Ledger reported. 

"This is nothing more than a political firestorm fueled by their hatred of an opposing ideology, and President George W. Bush in particular. Dr. Rice and the people of New Jersey deserve better," Angelini said in a statement. 

School administrators are standing by their decision.

Greg Trevor, a spokesperson for the school, told New Brunswick Today, "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."

Click here for more from The Star-Ledger.

Click here for more from New Brunswick Today.

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