AMHERST, Mass. — President Bush's former chief of staff Andrew Card was loudly booed by hundreds of students and faculty members as he rose to accept an honorary degree at the University of Massachusetts on Friday.
The boos and catcalls _ including those from faculty members who stood onstage with Card _ drowned out Provost Charlena Seymour's remarks as she awarded the honorary doctorate in public service. Protesters claim Card lied to the American people in the early days of the Iraq war and should not have been honored at the graduate student commencement.
Card smiled slightly while Seymour spoke and raised his hand in thanks, then sat down without speaking.
Afterward he ignored a reporter's question about the protesters. "It was a great honor and a privilege to be here," he said.
The protests were mainly contained to an area in the back of the campus arena, though many of the faculty members onstage joined the three- to four- minute outburst.
One faculty member onstage held a sign: "Card _ no honor, no degree." Another sign said, "War criminals go home."
Chancellor John Lombardi declined to comment on the protests or Card's honorary degree.
Before the commencement ceremony, about 100 faculty members and students sang anti-war songs, handed out leaflets and waved signs outside the arena.
Sigrid Schmalzer, an assistant professor of history, said she believes Card was honored because he's well-connected and UMass thought he could somehow help the school.
"For the university to so cynically disregard the question of intellectual integrity when it becomes convenient to pursue money and power is the wrong message to send," she said.
Card, a former Massachusetts lawmaker who received his undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina, has said he was honored to be selected and is a supporter of UMass.
Opponents tried unsuccessfully for days leading up to the ceremony to get the university to change its mind.
"Andrew Card was Bush's chief of staff from 2000 to 2006. By about 2004, he should be saying, 'Look, either these policies change, or I'm going to resign,'" said economics instructor John Stifler.