UA under fire over graduation speech

TUSCALOOSA—A graduation speech delivered by James T. Stephens, chairman of EBSCO Industries of Birmingham, has drawn fire from many who attended the ceremony due to its overtly political nature. According to the University, Stephens was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Some in attendance expressed dismay at Stephens’ attack on the Bush administration regarding the US war in Iraq, and that the University would allow a political attack during a non-political event such as graduation. The speech, and of course the honorary degree, appeared to have put an official university endorsement on the content of the speech, according to some UA supporters in attendance.

Advertisement: (Story continues below)

FROM THE BIRMINGHAM NEWS:Stephens said he finds two elements of the war painful to the nation’s character. “First, we stepped outside our national character when we started the war,” he said. “The second pain is the combination of the loss of life and the large number of crippled young men and women of our armed forces, but the greater number is the 65,000 absolutely innocent children, women and men, all Iraqi civilians, who have died from the disturbances created. “We can relate easily to the family pain from the killing of innocents at Virginia Tech. Fifty civilians died in Iraq that very day.”