Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has announced that she will not be speaking at Rutgers University's commencement after students and faculty protested. The protests surrounded Rice's involvement in the Iraq War.

Rice was supposed to be receiving a speaking fee of $35,000, and even as protests and sit-ins spread through campus, Rutgers President Robert Barchi resisted disinviting the politician. He claimed that Rutgers is a proponent of "open discourse."

A statement was sent to Barchi announcing Rice's decision.

"Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families," Rice said. "Rutgers' invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time."

Rice also defended her political record, saying she had "defended America's belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas."

[Image via AP]