It was going to be hard to find a commencement speaker to follow the president of the United States. Regardless of personal political views, having President Barack Obama address the University’s graduating class last spring was a special honor. But since University President Mary Sue Coleman couldn’t bring the leader of the nation back to the Big House, it’s no surprise that she would ask the leader of the state: newly inaugurated Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

In her eight years at the University, Coleman has often invited major political figures to speak at commencement, including Obama, former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former President Bill Clinton in 2007. As the chief executive of the state, Snyder is an obvious choice to help usher the class of 2011 into life after college. He will speak from a unique perspective as both a businessman and a politician. But he will also speak as someone who once sat where the class of 2011 will be sitting, since he’s an alum who received his Bachelor in General Studies, Masters of Business Administration and Juris Doctorate from the University.

But what makes Snyder unique is that he is a different kind of politician. Unlike most elected officials, he went straight from his CEO position at venture capital firm Ardesta, LLC to Lansing. Instead of spending years on the campaign trail delivering persuasive speeches, Snyder promptly made the decision to run and was elected in one year. So it wouldn’t be surprising if instead of delivering a typical political speech, Snyder spoke in a more business-oriented tone.

It will probably be a good speech. Snyder co-founded and ran a venture capital firm and became the state’s governor with virtually no political experience. Clearly, Snyder knows how to command all types of environments, and will be able to utilize those skills when he enters the Big House on April 30.

However, the irony of this commencement speaker decision cannot be overlooked. Snyder has frequently discussed the importance of education for the state’s future. But when it came time to allocate funding in the budget he announced on Feb. 17, that message got lost in the translation, as his proposal included a 15 percent cut to higher education funding. It’s difficult to appreciate a commencement speaker who wants to reduce funding for the state’s public universities by such a large amount. While Snyder most likely won’t focus on that unfortunate reality for University students, it will undoubtedly be on the minds of non-graduates at the ceremony. How can Snyder motivate the class of 2011 when the class of 2015 will enter the University with likely raised tuition costs and potentially fewer resources because of his budget?

Thus far, a lot of responses to the commencement speaker announcement have been less than enthusiastic. Many students are upset about Snyder being invited. There are four Facebook groups protesting the decision. There is also a UPetition asking the University to reconsider Snyder for commencement speaker that had more than 2800 signatures as of midnight last night. And it’s difficult to blame them.

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