In response to the withdrawal of Christine Lagarde as the college’s Commencement speaker, a number of Smith faculty members released a statement in support of President Kathleen McCartney’s letter sent to students, faculty and staff noting that Lagarde cited student and faculty objections as the reason she withdrew.
To the Smith Community and the Board of Trustees:
We, faculty members at Smith College, are disappointed that Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, has withdrawn as the College’s 2014 commencement speaker. We endorse the view expressed by Kathleen McCartney, President of the College, in her message to the Smith community (May 12): “An invitation to speak at a commencement is not an endorsement of all views or policies of an individual or the institution she or he leads. Such a test would preclude virtually anyone in public office or position of influence. Moreover, such a test would seem anathema to our core values of free thought and diversity of opinion.”
Peter de Villiers
Maria Farina de Parada
Members of the college’s economics department issued a similar statement on May 13. Offering a different perspective, Elizabeth Armstrong, associate professor of the study of women and gender, published an editorial on the subject, “Let’s Agree to Disagree at College Commencements,” in the May 14 Daily Hampshire Gazette. (Content requires registration.)