Texas Tech Invites Rice as Commencement Speaker

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by Betsy Blaney, Associated Press

LUBBOCK, Texas ― Texas Tech University remained hopeful Tuesday that ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will accept one of three speaking offers for future graduation ceremonies.

In a letter sent Monday, Chancellor Kent Hance told Rice she could take her pick and speak at summer, fall or 2015 graduation ceremonies after protests against her planned appearance at Rutgers University.

Hance spokesman Randy Sanders said Tuesday that the school had not heard from Rice.

Hance, the only man to ever beat Rice’s former boss in an election, invited her to be the commencement speaker for ceremonies Aug. 9, Dec. 12-13 or May 15-16, 2015, in Lubbock. Hance calls Rice a “distinguished diplomat and great leader.”

Rice planned to deliver the May 18 commencement address at Rutgers but later declined following protests by some faculty and students over her role in the Iraq War. Rice said her appearance would distract from the graduation celebration.

Rice is a political science professor at Stanford University. Messages left Tuesday with Stanford for Rice weren’t immediately returned.

Rutgers had to scramble to find a new speaker for its May 18 ceremony after Rice withdrew on Saturday. Some students and faculty had protested her selection. Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean will speak at the commencement.

A Democrat at the time, Hance defeated former President George W. Bush in 1978 to become the West Texas congressman for the 19th District. Hance changed parties in 1985.

Rice is the second Bush Cabinet member Hance has reached out to since becoming chancellor in 2006. Alberto Gonzales, who resigned as U.S. attorney general in 2007, taught political science at the university for two years as a visiting professor.

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