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Posted on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 10:12 a.m.

Rick Snyder to deliver University of Michigan commencement address

By Nathan Bomey

First, the president. Now, the governor.

A year after President Barack Obama used the platform of the University of Michigan spring commencement ceremony to say civility is needed in political debates, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will get his chance to say a few words.

Snyder is scheduled to deliver U-M's spring commencement address at 10 a.m. April 30 at Michigan Stadium, the university said today.


Gov. Rick Snyder, pictured with DTE Energy CEO Gerry Anderson and University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman at an event in February, will deliver U-M's spring commencement address.

Angela Cesere |

The former Ann Arbor venture capitalist and first-time politician will also add to his collection of U-M degrees when the university awards him an honorary doctor of laws. Snyder earned his bachelor’s, master’s of business administration and law degrees by May 1982, three months before he turned 24.

"As a Michigan alumnus and the state's chief executive, Governor Snyder is uniquely positioned to tell our graduates about the challenges and rewards of leadership," U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said. "We look forward to his message, and to presenting honorary degrees to the exceptional individuals who will join us in celebrating the Class of 2011."

The commencement address will take place a month before Snyder has said he wants to get the state's 2011-12 budget approved. His proposal includes a proposed 15 percent cut to higher education funding.

Coleman told last month that she "understood that there has to be sacrifice."

"I can look at the numbers, I can look at the revenue and I just have realized that it takes a brave governor to tackle every little piece of it, and that’s what he’s trying to do," she said. "We need to get our financial house in order in this state."

U-M is also expected to distribute an honorary doctor of laws degree to former U.S. Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers, an honorary doctor of fine arts degree to film director Spike Lee, an honorary doctor of laws degree to Ford Motor Co. executive chairman and Snyder supporter Bill Ford Jr. and an honorary doctor of laws to billionaire real estate executive, Miami Dolphins owner and U-M donor Stephen Ross.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eugene Robinson is scheduled to speak at University Graduate Exercises at 9:30 a.m. April 29 at Hill Auditorium. He will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Tue, Mar 15, 2011 : 4:58 p.m.

I just hope everybody has read the article in the Huffington Post where Snyder says "I am enacting a "Financial Martial Law" bill that allows him to declare "financial emergency" in town and school districts and appoint someone to fire local elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, and eliminate services. An amendment to require Emergency Managers to hold monthly public meetings to let people know how they are governing was rejected by Senate Republicans. He will not cap Emergency Managers compensation or require those appointed to run school districts have some background in education. Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution explicitly prohibits any State from impairing a contract, which is exactly what this legislation does. There is so-o-o much more!


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 11:10 p.m.

Come on people, it's our Governor, for Pete's sake! Though, I am not real sure that he is as much of a brave little governor as Mary Sue attests. How much bravery does it take to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly and poor of our state? The Doctor of Laws is good, hopefully he will title his speech, "How I Subjugated The Rest Of My Human Compassion To Win The War On Women,The Middle Class, And The Poor." Rick, this would make a great book too. I am sure all your wealthy friends would love to hear how this is done so they can feel better about themselves,too.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

Graduation day is absolutely about celebrating accomplishments. But the irony of choosing a speaker who professed to value education but is so quick to make monumental cuts (versus reforms) to education in this state is so huge I cannot find the words to convey my shock and dismay, but I'll try these - In the next 4 or 8 years - maybe even a generation, how many fewer in state students will be graduating from our flagship STATE university because they either can't afford to attend or didn't have good enough academic credentials from going to public schools without resources or quality teachers? How many current students will never get to that day because their parents are public employees who were forced to take a pay cut they can't recover from?


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 9 p.m.

Huh. I guess "Joe the Plumber" was unavailable.

David Briegel

Tue, Mar 15, 2011 : 12:21 a.m.

Julie, Luv Ya!


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

he doesn't have a track record..outsourced his mid tier computer company to elected gov in a mid term election and cried and whined about debates during the campaign...who thinks he has something to say? he's rich-big deal- more people aren't rich these days....let's talk about that...not your business model for your other rich friends.

T. Kinks

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

@ grye Get your head out of the sand. Snyder is as bad if not worse then the Gov of Wisconsin. Our schools are sraped for cash big time & Snyder is going to take away $470 per student . That alone is enough to not approve of his budget. I say THROW THE BUM OUT!

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

Yeah, let's just tax grandma some more till she ain't got nothin' left! I'm sure you'll support that. Just click your heels and salute! Leave no billionaire behind. Buy the same lie we've heard for the last 30 years!


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

And how would you get the state out of this financial mess? Raise taxes on everone or just on the wealthy and businesses? I suspect that would be the standard answer. Tax those that have succeeded. Why would anyone want to do better. Might as well stay poor and not pay any taxes. Businesses don't need to pay more taxes. They need the money to grow and create jobs to employ more people. That's the only way Michigan is going to get out of this economic mess is to grow businesses and employ people. But if you have a better plan, let's hear it.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

You honor the man who is trying to gut public education, among other crimes, in the state by asking him to be your commencement speaker? I just hope the students take this matter into their own hands and make his return to his alma mater a day he'll remember. It's time for Ann Arbor to become Madison.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 7:51 p.m.

Mary Sue: How could you?


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 7:48 p.m.

I have a child graduating this year and I couldn't be more disappointed. The graduates don't need to hear the governor tell them to stay in state when there are no opportunities for them here. If there were opportunities, they would stay.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 7:46 p.m.

@grye: Your intro contained the best idea put forward here. Yes, let's get Larry the Cable Guy for commencement. He may not be a nerd, but he's always urging us to git 'er done. In one fell swoop, we can generate millions of dollars in income. Seats could be marketed at $100 per head, plus additional fees for premium seating and the luxury boxes. Concessions, TV rights, rerun royalties, parking fees, etc. will all enhance the take. By being the featured act before the largest live comedy audience, Larry would probably reduce his fee a bit. We can always give him an honorary doctorate (PhD=Pure hillbilly Demagoguery). Let's show the Guv that we understand the value of a dollar.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

I guess, as a parent of a graduating senior, that leaves me stuck between a rock and a hard place. I want to see my son graduate, but I am totally opposed to "Rick's" politics. UGH!!! Bad choice U of M .... especially with all the education cuts he is proposing. And to those comparing Obama's visit last year with this ..... there is no comparison ... not even close.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

I'd love to go back and look up the comments a year ago and compare all those who were just pleading to leave Mr Obama alone, and focus on the students. Will those same people advocate the same principle this time? And, for what it's worth, there were virtually no protestors, and of those, they were all peaceful.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

I'm sure that the trust fund brats will show the same level of liberal sophistication and civility that they have to every other Republican guest speaker. Having a very successful UofM grad who lives in town give the commencement address is a radical concept but who knows, it just might work.

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 6:06 p.m.

Did anyone think that Mary Sue would miss an opportunity to gain favor with the emperor? She certainly will tell him about the beauty of his new suit! Maybe he will speak about the brilliance of the last two Atty Gen's! And just how much grandma should love him!!


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

How sad to ruin an event for the graduates by inviting someone as unpopular as the Governor to their event. Graduation should be for and about the students. I hope many will students will protest this poor decision on the part of the University by not attending graduation.

Mark Thompson-Kolar

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 5:35 p.m.

Spare us the protests on graduation day. The new governor is grappling with huge problems left for him in this state after years of neglect. Let him speak. Celebrate the graduates. Keep the day positive.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

I guess the University did not realize how quickly Snyder would become unpopular. Many university members made contributions to his campaign, I wonder if they have asked for a refund!

Christopher LeClair

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 5:37 p.m.

I had to see people fly the stupid "Voters Remorse Yet" plane during my graduation. I am protesting.

Christopher LeClair

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

Join my group on Facebook NO RICK for UM. I voted for the guy but am embarassed by this. I don't care that he is Republican...I care about the SCHOOL CUTS. NEVER OKAY.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

Wouldn't be a true U of M graduation without controversy, protests and "the poor students" comments.

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

Maybe he can talk about his gay bashing Attorney General during his speech?


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

The AG is an elected official, not a political appointment by the Governor.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

Quick question: did anyone who is complaining about Governor Snyder being the commencement speaker complain when Obama was announced last year? Just asking... Also, if I recall correctly, there were very few if any protesters last year. The same should be true this year. This is not the setting for partisans to protest the Governor. It's not about him, but rather the accomplishments of the graduates.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 5:27 p.m.

Ya, I did. I was offered tickets to see Obama and turned them down. Look I disagree with Obama on a lot of things (like failing to close Gitmo) but honestly I also disagree with Synder (like cutting Detroit Public School funding). I feel like by choosing politicians were are endorsing their policies, which we shouldn't on either side.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

The bad news is - Gov Snyder. The good news is Spike Lee!! Maybe the gov'ner should stay in Lansing and let Spike Lee give the Commencement Speech. More entertaining. More charismatic. More dynamic. I feel bad for the seniors that have been looking forward to their speaker. I know they were concerned who could follow Obama - but Snyder? Really? Did Ms. Coleman get a bunch of "Sorry, can't make it" resigned herself to him? Shameful.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 3:40 p.m.

Hide yo grandma, and hide yo grandpa 'cause they tax'n e'rybody out here.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

Wow. You would have thought that Larry the Cable Guy was giving the commencement address. Nothing like downing the governor when is trying to make a difference after years of economic neglect and hasn't been in office 4 months. Would you rather have some foreign head of state or a cabinet level secretary? How about Warren Buffet? Oh no, he's a business person. Wouldn't want any advise on how to succeed in business. Guess you need a teddy bear and blanket kind of guy to give you a warm fuzzy about your future.

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

gyre, No, we didn't complain when Obama was invited. We are now. WE have standards!


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 5:27 p.m.

Actually, there is a very serious recall effort underway: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. I know people who voted for him who are just as disgusted as I am. He is undermining the entire democratic process... those of you in support, have you even read the emergency management bill??? Never mind the whole tax the poor, unfund education, and give to the rich platform he's got going.

John of Saline

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

The state government has always had the power to take over local governments. That's the authority under which Robert Bobb operates in the Detroit Public Schools and under which Gov. Granholm would have (likely) removed Mayor Kilpatrick had he not resigned. This is nothing new. What is new is people acting like that policy is about to suddenly change from the rare occurrence it is now, prompted by local fiscal or criminal emergency, into a blanket takeover of all local functions. Where did that raving idea come from? That's frankly idiotic. The state doesn't have the resources to administer local governments; that's the whole point of granting municipal charters and other instruments of local government.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Fascism? To the best of my knowledge, we still have a legislature here in Michigan. And if you think everything is heading south in a handbasket, ask for impeachment. The majority voted him into office to do a job and make the tough choices that no one else seemed to want to make. Now everyone is whining about how he is going about it.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

John, a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power Read his plan to take over any government in the state with one of his own &quot;EFM&quot;s.....and you'll get it.

John of Saline

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

Um, do you even know what the word &quot;fascism&quot; means? Hint: it doesn't mean &quot;someone I don't like got elected.&quot;


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 3:40 p.m.

Fascism doesn't bother you? Do you believe in the democratic process?


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

An April 30th protest is already being planned. I feel so sorry for this year's graduating class, many of whom are good friends. Commencement is supposed to be about celebrating their achievements, but now most will be preoccupied with showing their resentment for a fascist politician who hoodwinked his way into office pretending to be a conservative.

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 8:41 p.m.

Snyder never said exactly what he would do. He never, ever answered that one simple question. He was rarely asked!! If asked, he dodged! It is simply a lie to say that he said this is what he would do!


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 8:32 p.m.

Hoodwinked??? Apparently you and perhaps the flock of bleating one issue sheep cannot read or were absolutely *CERTAIN* that if they voted their &quot;conscience&quot; all would be right with the world. Snyder is doing exactly what he said he was going to do, on his web site, in person, on the television, all throughout his campaign.

average joe

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 4:34 p.m.

Robert- Are you talking about this year's commencement speaker or last year's? -Everyone has their gripes.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

Sounds like your candidate lost. Glad you're not bitter about it. It must be hard to live in a State with so many people less informed then you are. Maybe Massachusetts would be better for you.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

To bad for the graduating class. I would expect thousands and thousands of protesters for this event because of what he is doing to the state.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

Well, now that he is taking over the state of Michigan, I guess he can pretty much speak wherever he wants.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 4:08 p.m.

He was invited to speak so I guess he can if he wants to. You can pretty much speak wherever you want if you're invited.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

Oh Great, another politician. Looking forward listening to the community lambast every word Snyder will say. If I recall, the governor spoke at the last one also where she thanked a community organizer for saving the auto industry.


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

From Obama to Snyder, and they had Clinton at my commencement. I feel bad for any of the seniors that were juniors when we had Obama and probably thought they'd get someone just as famous.