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.