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Stein withdraws from UVM commencement ceremony

Published: Friday, February 6, 2009

Updated: Saturday, March 14, 2009 17:03

ben-stein-courtesy-of-washington-and-lee-universit

Courtesy of Washington and Lee University

Just four days after his appearance was announced, Ben Stein withdrew as the prospective commencement speaker at UVM's graduation ceremony in May.

In his place, former Vt. Governor and chair of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, will address the graduates.

University Communications announced Dean's appearance on Friday.

The news that Stein would speak and receive an honorary degree at the 2009 graduation was met with a large amount of criticism from members of the academic community, both in Vermont and around the world.

"I got a lot of e-mails," UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel said in an interview on Monday, Feb. 2, after Stein's withdrawal was announced. "I would say hundreds."

One of those e-mails came from Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, who said he expressed concerns with Stein's views on science that were at the heart of Stein's withdrawal.

"It was the legitimate concern among members of the community regarding the implications of granting an honorary degree to someone whose ideas fundamentally ignore the basics of scientific inquiry," Fogel said.

Fogel stressed that it was Stein, not the University, that backed out of the commencement deal, for which UVM was to pay Stein $7,500.

In an interview with The Burlington Free Press, Stein called the University's response to his withdrawal "chicken shit" and said that he "didn't really want to do it in the first place."

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