Should New Jersey’s Colleges Pay for Graduation Speakers?

Somewhat obviously in reaction to the decision of Rutgers University to pay Toni Morrison $30,000 to serve as its gradation speaker, Garden State legislators introduced a bill last week to prevent the state’s public colleges from paying graduation speakers.

According to an article by Kelly Heyboer in the Star-Ledger:

New Jersey’s public colleges would be banned from paying for commencement speakers under legislation introduced in Trenton this week. The bill, introduced in the Assembly Monday, has bipartisan support. It is co-sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), chairman of the education committee.

The legislation says if a public college or university pays a graduation speaker, the state treasurer will deduct the equivalent amount from the school’s state aid.

New Jersey’s flagship state university would, however, still be allowed to pay someone like the reality TV star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi $32,000 to answer questions at the student center, as Polizzi did back in April.

Because Snooki was paid out of the student activity fee and not the university’s general fund, expenses like that would still be allowed.

One of the bill’s sponsors states that it’s “an honor enough to be asked” to speak at graduation; the payment should be unnecessary.

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