Jun 05, 2020

Kan. school cancels Ivanka Trump's commencement address

Posted Jun 05, 2020 11:00 AM
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ivanka Trump during her visit to Wichita in October of 2019
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ivanka Trump during her visit to Wichita in October of 2019

WICHITA —WSU Tech has made a change in who will speak at their weekend virtual graduation event.

On Thursday morning, the school announced that Ivanka Trump, advisor to the president of the United States, as a planned speaker at the college’s virtual commencement ceremony scheduled for Saturday.

The invitation was extended in February and Ms. Trump offered to record a congratulatory message to graduates to be played during the event, according to a statement released late Thursday from Dr. Sheree Utash, President, WSU Tech.

"In light of the social justice issues brought forth by George Floyd’s death, I understand and take responsibility that the timing of the announcement was insensitive. For this, I’m sorry that was never the intent, and I want you to know I have heard you and we are responding," according to Utash.

"Our focus with commencement has always been about our graduates and celebrating their accomplishments. To ensure this our only commencement speaker will be Rebecca Zinabu, WSU Tech practical nursing graduate," according to a joint statement from Utash and Wichita State University president Jay Golden.

"The graduates will also be invited to separately view congratulatory messages from over 30 voices, including Ms. Trump and community members."

Utash wrote, "I respect and understand the sharply divided reaction to today’s announcement. The college stands with those who fight injustice and advocate for social equity, and we’re profoundly proud of the diversity and social change being brought forth by our students, alumni, faculty, and staff.

In my heart, my highest priority has always been to support our students and our community, and we will do so on Saturday."