WSU President, WSU Tech President announce changes to Ivanka Trump’s virtual commencement participation

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Trump and his advisor, was scheduled to be the commencement speaker at WSU Tech’s virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday. But those plans have changed according to statements released Thursday evening by top officials of both institutions.

WSU President Dr. Golden and WSU Tech President Dr. Sheree Utash released the following joint statement Thursday:

“Earlier today, WSU Tech announced that Ivanka Trump, advisor to President Donald Trump, is a planned speaker at the college’s virtual commencement this weekend.

The WSU Tech commencement plans have been refocused more centrally on students – student voices in particular. Rebecca Zinabu, WSU Tech practical nursing graduate, will now be the only commencement speaker during the ceremony.

 Following the ceremony, WSU Tech graduates will have the option to hear prerecorded congratulatory messages from more than 30 speakers.”

WSU Tech President Dr. Sheree Utash shared the following message Thursday:

“Graduates, Students and Community,

Earlier today, WSU Tech announced that Ivanka Trump, advisor to the president of the United States, is a planned speaker at the college’s virtual commencement ceremony scheduled for Saturday, June 6.

The invitation was extended in February and Ms. Trump offered to record a congratulatory message to graduates to be played during our event. In light of the social justice issues brought forth by George Floyd’s death, I understand and take responsibility that the timing of the announcement was insensitive. For this, I’m sorry that was never the intent, and I want you to know I have heard you and we are responding.

Our focus with commencement has always been about our graduates and celebrating their accomplishments. To ensure this our only commencement speaker will be Rebecca Zinabu, WSU Tech practical nursing graduate.

Our graduates will also be invited to separately view congratulatory messages from over 30 voices, including Ms. Trump and community members.

I respect and understand the sharply divided reaction to today’s announcement. The college stands with those who fight injustice and advocate for social equity, and we’re profoundly proud of the diversity and social change being brought forth by our students, alumni, faculty, and staff.

In my heart, my highest priority has always been to support our students and our community, and we will do so on Saturday.”

To view the letter, click here.

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