Statement from President Docking Regarding Commencement Speaker Pat Boone

Recently Adrian College announced that acclaimed actor and entertainer Pat Boone had been selected to give the commencement address to the graduating class of 2012. Pursuant to that announcement, individuals have voiced some opposition to his appearance on campus. Adrian College, respectful of every individual’s right to free speech, does not take a position on the objections, but affirms its commitment to Mr. Boone’s address to this year’s graduating class.

The original concept of a university was to create a venue in society where people with different points of view could come together to share and discuss them without fear of persecution. It was felt that in this manner a greater awareness and growth of individual and collective knowledge would result. Adrian College embraces this long held standard and adheres to the concept that an individual, and our society at large, is strengthened through civilized controversy, freedom of speech, and an ongoing quest for knowledge.

Adrian College includes in its mission statement that it is “committed to the pursuit of truth and dignity of all people. Through active and creative learning in a supportive community, students are challenged to achieve excellence in their academic, personal, and professional lives, and to contribute to a more socially just society.” Through coursework and campus experiences, the College consistently seeks to provide opportunities to advance free thought and intelligent discourse. As an institution of higher learning, the College encourages the presentation of varying viewpoints to allow each individual the opportunity to consider the opinions of others as they grow in their own beliefs.

While Mr. Boone’s political views, and social positions, have raised healthy debate over the years, to suspend his commencement address based on arguments against his beliefs, opinions, and ideology, would be a form of intolerance that cannot be condoned. In truth, even while people can debate his position on controversial issues, his success as a musician, actor, and businessman is undeniable. Mr. Boone’s professional success story is one worthy of the recognition he will receive on Commencement Day.

Pat Boone, in an unprecedented step, and in the spirit of an open-minded dialogue, has offered that a representative of those opposing his speech be granted a few moments at Commencement prior to his address to explain why he should be denied the opportunity to speak and to share his experiences with the Class of 2012.

Adrian College respects Mr. Boone’s accomplishments, and his candor in these circumstances. As an institution of higher learning, Adrian College will continue to be a place where individuals of differing ideas and opinions can engage in open and honest discussions. The College will continue to recognize individual achievement, seeking ways in which to inspire others on their path for their own success.

It is with these beliefs clearly in place that the College will welcome Mr. Pat Boone to the podium for Commencement 2012.

Mr. Pat Boone has experienced extraordinary success as an entertainer and a businessman throughout his prolific career. His popularity as a teen idol in the 1950’s has been documented as second only to that of Elvis Presley. His recorded album sales have reached over 45 million including 38 top 40 hits. Expanding his venues, he hosted a ground breaking television show and demonstrated cinematic success with his roles in over a dozen films, including a role in the 60’s classic, “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. Mr. Boone furthered his career as a motivational speaker and a bestselling author. Boone is an individual who has tremendous personal and professional accomplishments that extend over six decades.