Ex-World Bank Chief Bows Out of Swarthmore College Graduation

Image: Ex-World Bank Chief Bows Out of Swarthmore College Graduation Robert Zoellick, former president of the World Bank.

Monday, 08 Apr 2013 01:56 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The former president of the World Bank has bowed out as the commencement speaker at this year’s Swarthmore College graduation ceremonies after he was criticized by students, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Robert Zoellick, a 1975 graduate of the renowned Pennsylvania liberal arts college, was ripped in a student forum for his support of the Iraq War and his work in President George W. Bush’s administration.

“I don't want to disrupt what should be a special day for the graduates, their families, and friends,” Zoellick said in an email to Swarthmore President Rebecca Chopp. “Nor do I have an interest in participating in an unnecessarily controversial event.”

Zoellick, the 11th president of the World Bank Group, was also executive vice president of Fannie Mae.

According to the Inquirer, Zoellick was slammed in an online discussion forum hosted by Swarthmore’s Daily Gazette newspaper for his “role in helping build an ideological foundation for the Iraq war.”

The reference was to a 1998 letter signed by Zoellick urging then-President Bill Clinton to remove then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power. Donald Rumsfeld, who co-signed, later led the invasion of Iraq as Bush’s secretary of defense.

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