Vice President Mike Pence is set to deliver the commencement address at Taylor University in Upland Saturday.
Backlash to the invitation was almost immediate. Students and faculty at the private, Evangelical university began a Change.org petition, which garnered thousands of signatures.
Those opposed to Pence speaking at commencement said Pence is not representative of the school’s Christian Values, and allowing him to deliver a speech made alumni, faculty, staff and current students, “Complicit with the Trump-Pence Administration’s policies.”
Spokesperson for Taylor, Jim Garringer, says the controversy over the Vice President speaking is indicative of how divided people are across the country on a number of issues. He says Pence’s electability record speaks to the Vice President’s popularity in his home state.
“And what we feel is advantageous of having Mr. Pence come to speak for us is that he is a past Governor of the state of Indiana,” Garringer says. “A six-time elected congressional representative, and he is open about his Christian faith, which we share, so we believe it’s going to be a good day.”
Garringer says the university has always had a good relationship with Pence, during his time in Indiana. He says Taylor officials extended the invitation to Pence during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.
“We’re working really hard to make sure it’s a great day for the vice president, and beyond that, a wonderful, memorable day for our graduates and their families,” Garringer says.
Pence is expected to arrive at the Delaware County Airport around 9 a.m. and then travel to Taylor University for the commencement at 10 a.m.