Text of Prepared Comments, Chairperson's Report to the University Senate, March 2014
Senate Chair Ann Gould

Two issues have surfaced in recent months that have served to foment lively discussion, and in one case, almost polarize, the university community. The first issue [The Proposed Merger of the Rutgers College of Nursing – Newark and New Brunswick, and the Rutgers School of Nursing - Newark] will be addressed as a formal report a bit later in today's meeting, so I will set that aside for now.
The second issue is the selection of Condoleezza Rice as the 2014 Commencement Speaker and recipient of an honorary degree. I'm sure that everyone in this room is well aware of the controversy that surrounds the selection of this degree recipient, both pro and con: the faculty have circulated petitions, the faculty councils have considered the issue; the students have engaged in discussion and debate, e-mail exchanges have occurred, and the issue has had media attention as well. 
The Senate Executive committee has also weighed in on the matter, and after a good deal of discussion and without complete agreement I might add, has decided that the issue of greater disquiet is not the actual name of the candidate selected, but the process by which these candidates are selected and if appropriate input from the university community has been considered.
Until 2011, a Faculty Committee on Honorary Degrees, that included representatives from all three campuses who were appointed by the president, was tasked to solicit nominations for the honorary degree recipients about 18 months in advance and then to confidentially prepare a slate of candidates. The composition of this committee was changed in 2013 to include: President Barchi, the New Brunswick and RBHS Chancellors, a member of the Board of Governors, a member of the Board of Trustees, and two professors.
However, it is important to note that these committees, regardless of structure, serve to advise the Board of Governors. Any confidential slate of candidates prepared by the selection committee is forwarded to the Board, who we must note, is free to solicit nominees from other sources. Thus there is no guarantee that names forwarded to the Board from any selection committee will be chosen.
But the question remains if the current process provides sufficient input from the celebrants of commencement, the students, and the faculty who shepherd them through the educational process, and if not, how may this be remedied? So, it was decided at the March Executive Committee meeting that we would call for a review of the selection process and procedures relating to selection of commencement speakers and recipients of honorary degrees. A charge was issued to the Student Affairs standing committee as follows:
Charge S-1405 - Procedures for Selecting Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients: Consider, and make recommendations to ensure that, the procedure for selecting Commencement speakers, as well as those who receive honorary degrees, seeks, and provides sufficient opportunity for, input from the Rutgers community. Respond to Senate Executive Committee by November 18, 2014.