AVE MARIA, Fla. -- Betsy DeVos delivered the commencement speech at Ave Maria University for the 2018 commencement ceremony. The decision to invite the United States Secretary of Education was a controversial one. Alumni from the small, Catholic, university have been vocal about DeVos making the commencement speech since the announcement was first made earlier in the year.
A group of 36 alumni from the college released an open letter condemning the decision. Part of the letter went as follows.
“A liberal arts institution…must be free of political indoctrination be the proper marketplace of ideas for its members. We are concerned that this endorsement degrades AMU’s liberal arts character that allows students to be actually free in mind and judgment”
Just a few weeks later, another group of alumni released another open letter saying the opinions of those individuals did not reflect the feels of all alumni from Ave Maria University.
Students at the commencement were happy to have DeVos as their commencement speaker. One of them, Bailey Timmis, who is graduating with a humanities degree.
“It was really nice, I thought it was witty and inspiring", she said of DeVos speech, Timmis had heard about the controversy surrounding the decision to to have DeVos as the speaker at her commencement, but was glad the strong feelings didn't lead to any unwelcome interruptions.
“I’m glad to see that there weren't any disruptions or anything thought, because she came ‘cause that would’ve been awkward so, I’m happy everything went smoothly."
Another graduate who was happy to have DeVos speak was Teresa Knauss. She was happy, not only to have DeVos speak, but to have her incorporate the values of her school in her commencement speech.
“Our whole university is centered around JP2 [Pope John Paul II] and Mother Teresa so it was great of her to bring that in and inspire us to go out and be not afraid", she said.