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Posted on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

Over student objections, University of Michigan regents approve Rick Snyder as commencement speaker

By Kyle Feldscher

The University of Michigan Board of Regents voted unanimously Wednesday to continue a university tradition by having Gov. Rick Snyder give the spring commencement address, one day after students protested the invitation.

Regents voted to award Snyder the honorary degree of doctor of laws and will continue the university tradition of first-term governors giving the spring commencement address, president Mary Sue Coleman said. Spring commencement takes place April 30.

“The governor knows the University of Michigan commencement ceremony well, having earned three degrees there and he is looking forward to this speech,” she said.


Rick Snyder will give the commencement address at the University of Michigan in April

Ryan J. Stanton |

The university’s announcement of Snyder as commencement speaker earlier this week was greeted with outrage from many U-M students, including students who protested at the Diag and the Fleming Administration Building Wednesday.

Some students voiced their protests directly to regents Thursday at their meeting at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit.

Zach Goldsmith, who organized the protest on Wednesday, said he came to the meeting to voice “in the strongest terms” his opposition to Snyder being selected commencement speaker.

He chastised regents and Coleman for holding Thursday’s meeting in Detroit, when many students in Ann Arbor disagreed with the decision.

“This decision (to hold the meeting in Detroit) shows the premium you place on student participation,” he said.

Goldsmith said he was insulted that his parents and students at the university would have to hear Snyder give explanations for his budget proposal, which includes large cuts to public education at the K-12 and state university levels.

He said the university may have extended the invitation to Snyder to speak at commencement but the students did not.

“Rick Snyder doesn’t represent me, he doesn’t represent my class and I hope to hell he doesn’t represent my university,” Goldsmith said.

Several regents defended the decision to invite Snyder to give the commencement address.

Regent Laurence Deitch said he was born a Democrat and will die a Democrat but still believes it’s important to honor university tradition of inviting the governor to speak while also respecting freedom of speech.

He said Snyder is about as passionate an alumnus as he knows and he is looking forward to hearing him speak. But, he said he wouldn’t hold it against U-M students who wanted to honor another university tradition — protesting.

“I’m looking forward to another terrific graduation,” he said. “And, if some of our students want to protest and picket, that’s another part of the Michigan tradition as well.”

Regent Olivia Maynard agreed with Deitch, who said about half the people who heard President Barack Obama speak in Michigan Stadium last year didn’t vote for him for president. She said it’s important to honor the position and the role of the governor.

“You don’t have to agree with him on everything, but it’s valuable to students and parents who want to hear it,” she said of Snyder’s upcoming speech.

Snyder won’t be the only person receiving an honorary degree from U-M during the spring commencement ceremony.

Among the notable names who will be receiving degrees will be William Clay Ford, Jr., executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company board of directors, businessman Stephen Ross and filmmaker Shelton “Spike” Lee.

Ford and Ross will receive doctor of laws degrees and Lee will receive a doctor of fine arts degree.

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sat, Mar 26, 2011 : 3:32 a.m.

Gov. Snyder has run and grown a successful businesses and raised venture capital so others can start and run other businesses, and he has been elected our governor to help bring fiscal sanity back to Michigan if we now give him a chance. Perhaps the U of M students who have yet to accomplish anything other than get their degree should have at least learned that they need to have an open mind to what a successful individual is willing to share with them.


Sun, Mar 20, 2011 : 12:30 a.m.

This is just as I expected that the Regents and President Coleman never listen to students. Well, We don't have to attend the commencement in spring to graduate from UM.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

Hmm. This is a University of Michigan issue...specifically the Class of 2011. I expect the students and guests will react as they see fit. That is their right. I wish the grads the best of luck. I am just glad my children are grown, and I won't have to sit through Snyder's drivel.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

This is hardly news. Once the proposal was on the table, the regents had no choice--after all, the man is the elected governor, like it or not (I do not). It was a terrible idea to begin with. I say this without any reference to "right" or "left," "liberal," or "conservative," or any of the other misleading titles carelessly bestowed by a lazy media; it was a bad idea because anyone could have predicted that there would be a huge outcry and the whole crisis should have been avoided. After all, the man has just proposed cutting education is a drastic way, not to mention other cuts that many of us think are completely unreasonable, while boosting the income of those who really do not need more. This mistaken choice of speaker goes beyond narrow partisanship--it opens up a hornet's nest of protest for a ceremony that should be about graduation, and not about the relationship of the University top bass with the man holding the purse. The powers that be at UM used calculation without imagination...

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

The (Darth) Regents exercised their power and clearly want to remain on good terms with (Darth) Ricky Snyder. I'm just glad I had the opportunity to attend former (Jedi) President Bill Clinton's commencement address and (Jedi) President Barrack Obama's. I suppose like all great things in life, freedom of choice and intelligent discourse must come to an end at the (Tatooine) University of Michigan campus.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 11:47 a.m.

For those who criticize any Snyder ties to China. Here's your chance to do some more criticizing. This gives you a chance to be an equal opportunity criticizer! Sen. Reid and Obama donors back company ( from China)seeking $450 million in U.S. money Top Democratic fundraisers and lobbyists with links to the White House are behind a proposed wind farm in Texas that stands to get $450 million in stimulus money, even though a Chinese company would operate the farm and its turbines would be built in China. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> It will be interesting to see how you spin or dodge this article!

average joe

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

jcj-Great &quot;left&quot; hook...give em a standing eight count.

Jimmy McNulty

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 11:24 a.m.

The talk here of people turning their backs to the governor or texting while he is speaking is just disrespectful. Partisan politics aside, he is the governor so show some respect for the office and the job no one wants to do. He's trying to dig Michigan out of the hole its been in for the last decade, and we all know how well the status quo has been working.


Sat, Mar 19, 2011 : 3 p.m.

Yes, because there is no disrespect in telling students &quot;I got my three degrees, now screw you.&quot; Rick Snyder is a taker. He got degrees from UM based on funding levels that were higher than he wants to give now. By the way, how is Gateway these days? Go ahead and try to buy one.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

Just disrespectful? How about taking retirement benefits from senior who have earned it? Don't make me laugh.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 10:46 a.m.

Bring your boom boxes and crank 'em up when Snyder steps up to the podium.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 3:51 a.m.

@Briegel They should probably stomp their feet and flail their arms just because they didn't get their way......I wonder if these tactics will work with their first employer. Is this how you act when you don't get your way ? Turn your back .....

David Briegel

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:51 a.m.

macjoint, that's not visible enough. Just turn your back or wear something &quot;appropriate&quot;! You students are smart enough to figure out something approprate!

Jimmy Olsen

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:43 a.m.

I forgot to post the website to browse through the UM salaries..... <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:03 a.m.

The solution is simple. If you disapprove strongly enough, don't go to the graduation ceremony. If enough graduates do so, the message will be loud and clear.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:50 a.m.

Kyle Maybe you should stick with K-12. WHY no mention of the student assembly vote in your&quot;story&quot;?


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

I will try for the 3rd time. You will have to read between the lines. Most of the liberals in this world say everyone should have rights unless it is someone that disagrees with them. Then they want them censored. My post have not singled anyone out and are mild compared to some of the other accusations here. Yet I guess there are more persons than just the posters that would have some of us censored!


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:36 a.m.

is he going to talk about how great freedom is and how democracy works...the guy who didn't want to debate his opponent...the guy who sold his mid tier computer firm to China...the guy who wants to set up emergency financial rule over communities, but offer tax breaks to corporations....

Moscow On The Huron

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

@Dave - that sounds exactly like the 2008 Presidential election to me.

David Briegel

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:49 a.m.

and the guy who was never asked a tough question. who never really answered a question. who never ran on this platform. If there had been a real media and real debates he would never have been elected! All bow before his excellency!

Ryan Munson

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

&quot;Regent Olivia Maynard agreed with Deitch, who said about half the people who heard President Barack Obama speak in Michigan Stadium last year didn't vote for him for president. She said it's important to honor the position and the role of the governor.&quot; What kind of scientific evidence suggests something like the above?


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

Ryan - The math is simple, more than 1/2 the students don't vote.

Basic Bob

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:12 a.m.

Scientific evidence? How about simple respect, if not for the man, then at least for the office?

Roger Roth

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 12:54 a.m.

@jcj I think it was Mark Twain who said, &quot;when you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to reform.&quot; I don't much take stock in quotes, but it's hard to ignore this one in this case, especially since Mark Twain was so right about so many things.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

It was Will Rogers who said &quot;I belong to no organized political party, I am a Democrat.&quot; It was P.T. Barnum who said &quot;There is a sucker born every minute.&quot; The opposition to our esteemed Governor Snyder are disorganized suckers. Would you rather have Zach Goldsmith as our governor? Of course not.

Jimmy Olsen

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 12:39 a.m.

I guess the &quot;adults&quot; in these comments who are advocating for the students to turn their back must've never taught their children &quot;respect&quot;. In respectful society we listen to opposing views and have discussion and debate. Acting like spoiled, bratty children because you don't get your way should've stopped before you arrived at school. What are you going to do in the workplace when you don't like what your boss is telling you to do ? Turn around and show him your back ? Grow up ! Here is the simple way to cut the UM budget 15% - take a look at the over-bloated salaries and the pure numbers of people that it takes to run the UM. Shouldn't be too hard to accomplish. Thiefdoms created and maintained by the over-paid in academia. Welcome to the real world. Rick's budget PROPOSALS have not yet been discussed in the legislature - perhaps other ideas and discussion can come up with a compromise and avoid all this speculation. Welcome Rick !! I bet tickets to commencement this year will be cheaper than the scalpers got for Obama !!

Jimmy Olsen

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:47 a.m.

macjont.....lets start with this one.... University Librarian Library Dean - General $351,370....with the world going digital...what does the library dean do all day...and the assistant dean, and the assistant to the assistant dean ??? or how about this - kitchen cleaner - 31,200 or this is a good one too.....Univ Secretary &amp; Top Executive Vice Pres &amp; Secretary Of Univ $255,613 ....i guess i should've studied shorthand !!


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:12 a.m.

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. What is your measure of overpayment? The cashier at the gas station?


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

I wonder what Goldsmith's major was in? Rick does re[present him rather he likes it or not unless he is not a resident of Michigan. Obama spoke last year and he represented all of America even if he is failing to balance the budget. Seems the tax and spend liberals can not understand the concept of not spending more than you take in. Perhaps economics should be a required course for all majors.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:03 a.m.

He is a political science major from Ypsilanti according to today's


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 12:13 a.m.

Once again we see how much the Regents and President Coleman listen to students.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.

Maybe they listened to the student assembly!


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 12:01 a.m.

Fact: The Michigan Student Assembly who is the true representative of the student body voted 14-9 to kill the resolution. Elections have consequences. The only thing worse than an old gadfly is a young one....and those who raised this silly opposition have been so labeled.


Sat, Mar 19, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

The MSA hardly represents students. Voter turnout is lower than it is in regular elections. MSA is filled with resume padding students hoping to use their position for grad school or a job.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

@Susan Montgomery Thanks for bringing this to light! In reading this article and the post here one would think that EVERY student at the U was opposed to Snyder's appearance. I doubt many of the posters here will take advantage of your link. Because it would be too depressing for them!

Susan Montgomery

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 11:45 p.m.

This is a very one sided perspective on the student viewpoint, I would hope for more balanced reporting. Note that a resolution to oppose the invitation was voted down by members of the Michigan Student Assembly 14-9, as reported two days ago by the Michigan Daily. See <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Dante Marcos

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

It's going to be the most fruitful demonstration in a long time. &quot;Don't beg for the right to liveā€”take it.&quot;


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 11:05 p.m.

Ford did not take a fed loan, they are making money, congrats to those who booed snyder at his photo op/lie fest today!

Roger Roth

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 10:06 p.m.

sbbuilder, you forgot: they grow up, get a job, then fed. gov. enabled corporations hang them out to dry, along with their pensions and health insurance, they lose their homes and, eventually, their unemployment benefit. And this, along with government hawking their and their childrens' future by giving $trillions to fund wars and to the criminals in the financial industries (none of whom brought to justice) because &quot;they're too big to fail.&quot; Why aren't we all protesting this? How can any reasonable person not be outraged by this? A trillion is a million million and a million is way more than most of us can dream of earning in a lifetime. Most of us can't even fathom &quot;a million.&quot; We're talking several trillion. Several million million. Have we been desensitized? I think the young liberals, were you to stretch it, just might have a legitimate gripe. Were it not for your young liberals, we'd probably still be in Viet Nam, women would still be denied a vote we'd have no civil rights act. My hat's off to the youth and I'm trying every day to be more like them. I urge all retirees to rejuvenate. Your hard-won retirement is under attack!

David Briegel

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:40 a.m.

Real patriots? Gag Me! You left out leftist and progressive! Thank goodness we left China to their victory in the cold war and their role as the Walmart enabler. Aren't you proud?


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1 a.m.

If we were still in Indochina it might be a good thing. 35 million South Vietnamese would have democracy. The Khmer Rouge would not have killed one million of its own people. Don't look now Roger, Ann Arbor is rediscovering its true identity with real patriots like Governor Snyder, Ron Weiser, Mark Ouimet, and Tom Monaghan. It was the 1960s that hijacked the conservative character of Ann Arbor and sent it down the road to extreme liberalism and creating the image of &quot;Moscow on the Hudson&quot;. God bless Ann Arbor and Ron Weiser.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 9:29 p.m.

Wait a minute. This is COMPLETELY bogus! Snyder really hasn't done anything yet - good or bad. He was only inaugurated a little over a month and a half ago! So what's the problem with him speaking? Is this purely an ideological rejection? At an institution of higher learning where people are supposed to be taught to reasonably listen to all sides in order to form an opinion, suppressing free speech because you don't THINK you will agree with the speaker is in complete conflict with any concept of enlightenment. Barack Obama spoke a year ago. I'm sure many of the 90,000 attendees didn't completely agree with him. Now we're going to show how enlightened we are by demonstrating against the right of someone that might hold a different view to express his opinion. I get it. A double standard! I'm no apologist for Snyder or his policies, But I will defend his right to say anything because if you take that right away from him, you can take it away from me, too!

Peter Jameson

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 6:33 a.m.

David, business creates prosperity for everyone! Its not greed to want more for your country , family, and future! You would not have your computer, phone, or internet without the &quot;greed&quot; to accomplish more.....and more...and more... you shouldn't be so cynical my friend.

David Briegel

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

One has served others for 20 yrs and the other worshiped at the altar of greed!


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 10:11 p.m.

Messrs. Obama and Snyder both are successful and accomplished doctorate holders; I may not agree with what each of them say but I still listen to both and will defend their invitation to appear at any event.

Dr. Rockso

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

The students should stand up and turn their backs to the Rick when he speaks. Its only fair since the Rick is turning his back on education, elderly and low income workers.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:08 a.m.

Marshall. Granholm did not turn her back on education, the elderly and low income workers.

Basic Bob

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:07 a.m.

The students should decline to acknowledge they received a diploma and degree from this Teaparty-controlled institution. That will teach the U who is important!

Jimmy Olsen

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

Roger Roth The unions are completely taking care of ruining the middle class by their incessant desire for more, more, more. They claim to have created it, and they can take the credit for destroying it. No wonder they support the tax and spend liberal democrats. It's high time we all get back to the basics. Honest days pay for honest days work.

Roger Roth

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 11:14 p.m.

Marshall, I don't think Granholm intended to destroy the middle class.

Marshall Applewhite

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 10:05 p.m.

Did you advocate for the same treatment of Gov. Granholm last year?

Roger Roth

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 9:16 p.m.

A rational person strong in his/her beliefs owes it to him/herself and the world to protest social and moral injustices, even if she/he stands alone. Right on, UM graduates.

David Briegel

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

Maybe he will tell them how to be successful in China and how the &quot;values&quot; of Communist China can apply to the so called Christian American victors of Ronnie's Cold War. Ok students. It's your turn. Turn your backs on him. Text while he talks. Come up with something &quot;special to wear&quot;. I have the utmost confidence that you have the ability to make it a memorable day!!


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 11:29 a.m.

Hold up you student loan payment sheets! Chant &quot;NO MORE LIES!&quot; would be nice.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

College campuses throughtout the world are populated with liberal youth. They can't stand the establishment. Never have, never will. Then, they get a job, grow up, have a family, and suddenly they are no longer quite so liberal. What happens? A huge chunk of those bright eyed, pink cheeked youth become conservatives, and then vote. Well, well.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:06 a.m.

I am 66 years old and far more liberal (progressive) than I was as a college student. Give me a strong socialist and he/she has my vote.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

Rick Michigan will probably provide a lot of lies during his address; it's his style. Say one thing, do another. Maybe he can talk about all the jobs he shipped to China or what a great job he did driving Gateway into the groud - a shining example of a 'turnaround'. Whatever he says, don't expect anything that he says to be true.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

You cannot compare what a person does in a private business to what s/he might do in a public office. So what if he shipped jobs to China? Are you afraid he will ship Michigan jobs to China? State Police? Teachers? In business, the goal is to make profits and if low cost labor is profitable, so be it. The difference may be no business because making items in the US boosts the costs so much people will not buy the product. I feel the same way about the President, says one thing does another. Guantanamo, lower the cost health care, keep your Dr, etc. I suppose that's politics.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

name one thing yea thats what I thought btw here are some facts <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 8:36 p.m.

Kudos to the Board of Regents in allowing a great alumnus to address the graduates. The protestors probably would have preferred Bill Ayres as their guest speaker. Zach Goldsmith is well-known as a local political activist in pro-Israel activities; he is chronicled on the Dearborn Boycotts Israel website. He studied under former anthropology professor Steven Pastner and opposed the candidacy of Green Party activists Henry Herskovitz and Chuck Loucks in the Peoples Food Coop director elections. He authored scholarlypapers on Israel and Palestinian issues and has voiced strong feelings toward Israel. He has been active in the Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice. He was known for his witty and controversial posts on the old Arbor Update blog.

David Briegel

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:54 a.m.

I think I'll volunteer at Selma tomorrow! lol


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:13 a.m.

You mean the indomitable Zach Goldsmith? Or Governor Snyder?


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 10:37 p.m.

you are a piece of work and one of the true unsolved mysteries of the world . SELMA tomorrow?? you may get to meet some of the personae you cite.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

Well good for him. If more people were active and passionate about what they believe in, we might not have the mess we have today. This country is run by people who participate in their community, politics included.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 8:35 p.m.

Students, welcome to the real world of power and politics!


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

To make it a truly memorable ceremony? Let Spike Lee deliver a rebuttal.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

The bosses have spoken. Now the real whining begins. Take this as a lesson learned. You don't always get way unless you are boss.