The Deepest Tan

So Toni Morrison may be valuable to the State University of New Jersey, but it looks like Snooki is more valuable.

According to an article in the Star-Ledger:

Last month, Rutgers officials said they had booked [Toni] Morrison — author of “Beloved,” “Song of Solomon” and other novels — to speak in a 52,000-seat football stadium at commencement in May. She will be paid $30,000, marking the first time Rutgers has written a check for a graduation speaker.

Tonight, Rutgers students said they had also made a big-name booking. Snooki — the “Jersey Shore” star whose real name is Nicole Polizzi — appeared at two question-and-answer sessions at the Livingston Student Center in Piscataway. Her fee: $32,000.

Snooki told Rutgers students to “Study hard, but party harder.”

The two women are being paid out of different funds. Polizzi’s cash comes from the student activity fee and so it could only have been spent on entertainment. It was the student programming group that decided an evening with Snooki was worth $32,000. Rutgers administrators, in contrast, determined an afternoon with the Nobel Prize winner was worth $30,000. Morrison will speak at graduation and was paid by the university directly.

Both Morrison and Polizzi have significant New Jersey connections. Polizzi, who is from upstate New York, has spent significant time in the Garden State as the star of the MTV reality show. Morrison was a professor at Princeton from 1989 until her retirement in 2006.

Morrison told the New York Post she wasn’t bothered by Snooki’s higher fee. “I don’t know her. And I don’t care,” Morrison said.

Then again, Morrison might not want to draw attention to how much either of them is getting paid. If Snooki isn’t worth it, why is Morrison? Sure, Morrison’s speech is likely to be rather more erudite but neither of them is really contributing anything substantial to the university.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer