UPDATED 2 PM 5/6
Rutgers University is teaching the world what happens when big-league aspirations meet a bush-league operation.
Consider the blowback New Jersey's would-be world class university faces over its misgivings about and mishandling of prospective graduation speakers.
Rutgers' first choice, former U.S. Seretary of State Condoleeza Rice, bowed out under pressure from the "progressive"on-campus forces of political correctitude; subsequently, the paralyzed former Rutgers football hero Eric LeGrand was invited and disinvited even as the university was announcing its choice of Tom Kean, New Jersey's former governor.
(Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi released a statement Tuesday morning, saying that LeGrand will in fact speak at the commencement on May 18 and blaming "miscommunication" for any appearances to the contrary).
The graduation speaker situation arose because the prospect of having to listen to Rice, who served in the administration of President George W. Bush, proved too...upsetting for a modest number of faculty and students. They staged a sit-in, talked about having teach-ins, and otherwise demonstrated their affinity for '60s styles, if not substances.
Last Saturday, Rice announced on Facebook that she'd decided to take a pass. What happened next (a university spokesman had no information Tuesday morning) has widely been reported as a telephone invitation to LeGrand that was hastily rescinded as the university was in the midst of announcing the choice of Kean.
"Eric LeGrand is an inspiration to the nation and arguably the most respected and visible ambassador for Rutgers," N.J. Senate President/Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Steve Sweeney said in a statement released Tuesday . "Eric is the quintessential role model, and a perfect choice to address Rutgers graduates and offer them advice about overcoming life's challenges. He deserves an explanation."
Let's set aside, for the moment, Sweeney's feud with Kean's son, N.J. Sen. Tom Jr., and focus on Kean Sr. The former governor, the classiest of class acts, has yet to announce whether he, too, feels disrespected -- as has everyone else with a stake in the State University of New Jersey -- by the lame leadership in New Brunswick.