Gov. Snyder Given Mixed Reception at Michigan Commencement

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

Gov. Rick Snyder has as much of a connection to the University of Michigan as anyone.

Michigan's Governor has received 4 degrees from the school, including an honorary degree bestowed on him Saturday.

But not all of his fellow Wolverines rolled out the welcome mat at Gov. Snyder's commencement address Saturday morning. When the Governor was introduced, a loud mix of cheers and boos rained down from the crowd of grads, teachers and family at the Big House. During the speech, a small group of students stood and turned their backs to the podium.

Governor Snyder wasn't deterred however. He steered clear of politics in telling the story of his relationship with the University of Michigan, and encouraged students to embody a phrase from the school's fight song.

"The leaders and the best," said Gov. Snyder. "The leaders is the easy part.... the best is the challenging part because too often the best is misunderstood. The best is not about having an attitude of superiority, it's not about being arrogant. What the best really means in my view, is giving your best."

Earlier in the day, unions from around the state organized a protest at Pioneer High School's football field. A handful of grads also attended and spoke against Gov. Snyder's policies.

Even though it has become a University of Michigan tradition to have the incoming Governor speak at the school's commencement ceremony, more than a thousand students signed a petition protesting the decision.

"I mean, yeah, it's a tradition, but 15 percent cuts to higher education have not been a tradition so I think that's where the difference really comes in," said Amanda Caldwell, chair of UofM's College Democrats.

Also receiving honorary degrees at the university's commencement were William Clay Ford Jr., journalist Eugene Robinson, filmmaker Spike Lee, former US congressman Vernon J. Ehlers and businessman Stephen Ross.


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