Condoleezza Rice Bows Out of Event Over Iraq War Protest

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Saturday backed out of delivering the commencement address at Rutgers University following protests by some faculty and students over her role in the Iraq War.

“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” Rice said. “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”

The school had voted to pay $35,000 to the former secretary of state under President George W. Bush and national security adviser for her appearance at the May 18 event, where they were to bestow her with an honorary doctorate.

But some students and faculty protested, saying Rice bore some responsibility for the Iraq War.

Rutgers President Robert Barchi said that Rutgers stands “fully behind the invitation” but respects Rice’s decision.