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DeVos Tapped As UB’s Fall Commencement Speaker

September 8th, 2017 by WCBC Radio

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been invited to speak at the University of Baltimore's fall commencement, the university's Student Government Association has confirmed. The Baltimore City Paper first reported the news. University officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

SGA President Mariame Dangnokho confirmed the pick in an email to students Thursday, saying her organization "was not included in the discussion" and didn't know until then that DeVos had been selected.

"We understand many of your frustrations and discontent with this invitation and are looking into how this decision was made," Dangnokho wrote.

DeVos was heckled at a May commencement speech at the historically black Bethune-Cookman University in Florida, where many of the graduating students turned their backs to her in protest. Criticism of her invitation was one of several controversies that led the university's president to retire before his contract was up.

DeVos alienated many African-Americans in February when she described historically black colleges as “real pioneers when it comes to school choice.” After a storm of criticism, she acknowledged that these colleges were “born, not out of mere choice, but out of necessity, in the face of racism.”

President Donald Trump’s nomination of DeVos, a Republican fundraiser with no classroom experience, was so controversial that Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a tie-breaking vote for her Senate confirmation.

Some leaders of historically black colleges and universities later expressed dismay when Trump invited them to the Oval Office for a “listening session” that became an apparent photo-op for Black History Month.

More than 40 percent of UB's student body is black.

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