The price was right

At least she's free.

At least she's free.

UNIVERSITY OF Washington officials are expecting protests over its commencement speaker this year—former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Almost any former secretary of state would be likely to draw protesters. But Albright—who served eight years in the Clinton administration, first as U.S. representative to the United Nations, then heading U.S. foreign policy—is particularly loathed by progressive activists for her advocacy of U.S.- led economic sanctions against Iraq.

Her role was most famously summed up by an exchange in a 1996 interview on 60 Minutes. Reporter Leslie Stahl, citing a then-recent U.N. report that stated the sanctions had resulted in the deaths of at least 500,000 Iraqi children, asked Albright whether that was an acceptable price to pay; Albright replied, “We think it’s worth it.”

On Saturday, June 15, Albright will address those assembled for the commencement ceremonies and receive an honorary degree from the UW. Until recently, the university had not given any honorary degrees since 1921. The first such degree since was awarded in April to Nobel Peace Prize- winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The second will go to Albright.

Norm Arkans, UW’s associate vice president for university relations, expects more honorary doctorates in the future.

Arkans also chaired the committee of faculty, administrators, and students that recommended Albright as commencement speaker. According to Arkans, once a short list is determined, the final speaker selection is largely because of circumstance. “[It’s] a process of matching who’s available on that day of your commencement. You have to sort of make phone calls and mix and match—who’s available, who’s doing commencement speeches that year, who costs too much.”

Albright’s price is right; she has declined to receive any fees for her UW appearance. “Secretary Albright has been on the screen of the committee [that chooses commencement speakers] for the past two years,” Arkans says. “She was unavailable in past years but was available this year.”

Geov Parrish

gparrish@seattleweekly.com


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Photo of promotional recruitment banner used by Auburn Police Department at Petpalooza. The banner features Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson, who is awaiting trial for the 2019 murder and assault of Jesse Sarey. Photo courtesy of Jeff Trimble
Auburn police use photo of embattled officer on recruitment banner

Families of people killed by Jeffrey Nelson, who’s awaiting trial for murder, speak out over use of his photo at Petpalooza.

T
Use your King County library card to explore the outdoors

KCLS cardholders can check out a Discover Pass for two weeks to explore public lands.

Monkeypox virus. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.
King County identifies first presumptive monkeypox case

The illness is not as easily transmitted compared to COVID-19, according to health officer.

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

Screenshot from Barnes and Noble website
Cover art of books that KSD Librarian Gavin Downing says have been under fire: “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts),” by Lev A.C. Rosen, “If I Was Your Girl,” by Meredith Russo, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George Matthew Johnson.
Kent middle school librarian wins intellectual freedom award

Gavin Downing refused to keep ‘silence in the library’ amid attempted book banning and censorship.

t
Kent elementary school teacher accused of using racist language toward student

River Ridge Elementary instructor placed on administrative leave by Kent School District.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.