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University of Oklahoma's selection of CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria as commencement speaker upsets some students

OU officials announced Zakaria will deliver the commencement address at the ceremony May 10. The announcement comes less than a year after CNN suspended Zakaria for plagiarism, leaving some students to question whether Zakaria is an appropriate choice for the ceremony.
by Silas Allen Published: March 9, 2013
/articleid/3764023/1/pictures/1976806">Photo - Fareed Zakaria
Fareed Zakaria

During the seminar, a faculty member talked to students about the gravity of the issue of plagiarism, and made it clear to them that they wouldn't be able to graduate if they were caught doing it, he said.

McKnight said he's called OU President David Boren's office to ask why Zakaria was chosen. So far, he hasn't gotten a response, he said.

In a statement, Boren said Zakaria was an important figure and commands wide respect for his coverage of global issues.

“Fareed Zakaria is truly an educator,” Boren said. “He uses his forum through the public media to educate a worldwide audience about the important issues we all confront and how we can work together to meet them.”

OU spokeswoman Catherine Bishop said commencement speakers are chosen by a committee that includes students, faculty and staff. The committee assembles a list of possible speakers, which then goes to Boren, who makes a final decision.

The final decision is based on the speaker's availability and “the speaker's ability to talk to our graduates about the world in which we live,” Bishop said.

Bishop said she had heard from a number of students who were pleased with the choice to bring Zakaria to campus, and said he would be donating the honorarium for his appearance to OU's study abroad scholarship program.

by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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