Pasadena City College Blames ‘Errors’ for Commencement-Speaker Dispute

A Pasadena City College official on Monday apologized for what he called “errors in following procedure” that led to a controversy over the California institution’s commencement speaker.

The college’s student newspaper reported last week that Dustin Lance Black, an alumnus who won an Academy Award in 2009, had been disinvited as the institution’s commencement speaker after the board learned that explicit photos of him had previously surfaced on the Internet. The college said that Mr. Black had not been confirmed as the speaker and that there had been a miscommunication about who was allowed to make the formal invitation.

The college said on Monday in a written statement that Anthony R. Fellow, chair of its Board of Trustees, had extended an invitation to the City of Pasadena’s public-health director, Eric Walsh, to serve as the speaker. The statement said that “a second invitation had unfortunately been extended” to Mr. Black, and called the invitation “an honest error” that had been made without the board’s knowledge.

Robert H. Bell, the college’s assistant superintendent and senior vice president for academic and student affairs, apologized to both men.

“Due to errors in following procedure for which I am responsible,” he said, “we have embarrassed our commencement speaker, Dr. Walsh, by inadvertently involving him in a controversy; we have embarrassed our esteemed alumnus Dustin Lance Black because of an invitation that was mistakenly delivered to his representative; and we owe the public an apology for involving Pasadena City College in a confusing situation that has unfortunately spilled over into public comment on homophobia.”

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