Ex-Chancellor of UC-Berkeley Backs Out of Haverford Commencement

Robert J. Birgeneau, a former chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, has become the latest commencement speaker this spring to withdraw in the face of protests, declining an invitation to speak and receive an honorary degree at Haverford College’s ceremony on Sunday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Students and faculty members at Haverford had objected to how Berkeley’s police force responded to student protests during Mr. Birgeneau’s time as chancellor. Mr. Birgeneau’s critics sent him a letter urging him to meet nine conditions, including making a public apology, but Mr. Birgeneau declined to respond to those demands.

Daniel H. Weiss, Haverford’s president, said in a letter to the campus that the college’s leaders had expressed “appreciation” for the views of Mr. Birgeneau’s critics.

“It is nonetheless deeply regrettable that we have lost an opportunity to recognize and hear from one of the most consequential leaders in American higher education,” Mr. Weiss wrote. “Though we may not always agree with those in positions of leadership, I believe that it is essential for us as members of an academic community to reaffirm our shared commitment to the respectful and mindful process by which we seek to learn through inquiry and intellectual engagement.”

On Monday, Smith College said that Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, had chosen to withdraw from its commencement after protests over her appearance.

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