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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Cheered, Booed During Commencement Speech

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Met with cheers and jeers, Gov. Chris Christie on Monday encouraged Seton Hall University’s graduating class to “be a disrupter” like him.

Referring to a New York Times Magazine article about him, titled “The Disrupter,” the governor encouraged students to use their education to disrupt the status quo to create change.

“Be a disrupter in the way your heart and mind tells you to be a disrupter,” said Christie, who gave the commencement speech at the Izod Center in East Rutherford. “To be a disrupter in the way your education tells you disruption is needed.”

Several students at the private Catholic college in South Orange heeded his advice, including one who shouted “Shut up!” toward the end of the speech.

“Do not take today’s accomplishment lightly. As from your early enthusiasms—both from your cheers and your other expressions—I can tell that you are not taking it lightly,” Christie said. He left the stage to a partial standing ovation, as well as to some boos.

News that he was delivering the speech was met with mixed reactions even before it started.

Joseph DePierro, the dean of the College of Education and Human Services who sat on the stage with Christie during the ceremony, said there was a general feeling of disappointment among students at the private Catholic college that Christie was chosen.

“I’m really bothered,” DePierro told the Asbury Park Press. “He’s called teachers union leaders ‘thugs.’ He’s talked about defying the state Supreme Court. How is that being a good role model for young adults?”

Christie, a Republican, is a 1987 graduate of Seton Law School in South Orange. Since becoming governor in 2010, he has become known for his fights with the state’s teachers and other public employee unions, among other things. He’s also embroiled in a fight over his cuts to education.

He cut $181 million in aid to higher education and nearly $1 billion in K-12 aid this budget year. The Newark-based Education Law Center sued Christie over his K-12 cuts, and a ruling from the state Supreme Court is expected soon. He has suggested that defying a court order was an option.

The current budget proposal restores $250 million in public education aid.

Other faculty thought it was an honor to have a sitting governor who is also an alumnus come and speak, regardless of party affiliation.

Assistant Communications Professor James Kimble said he found Christie to be just “a normal guy” who lets his foibles come through.

Kimble said he didn’t find the speech overly political or rife with a conservative message, pointing out: “A conservative stance, in most cases, is to keep things the same, not to disrupt them.”

Christie has delivered commencement addresses at Seton Hall Law School, Monmouth University, Rutgers and the University of Delaware, where he received his undergraduate degree in political science in 1984.

During his speech at Monmouth University last year, there was also some booing and a few students turned their backs to the governor as he spoke.

Business management major Nick Naumann, 22, from Connecticut said he likes Christie but thought teachers “would flip out” when he spoke, since they could lose their jobs with continued budget cuts.

He said the reaction around campus that Christie was speaking at graduation seemed to vary by school.

“I thought it was great, but I like the guy,” Naumann said.

Grace Annunziata, whose granddaughter Sarah Villari was graduating with a business degree, said she found Christie’s speech on Monday “thoroughly enjoyable.”

“I just thought he was so truthful,” she said. Annunziata was less impressed with the booing during his speech, which she said was inappropriate, regardless of political philosophy, on a day of celebration.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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  • Tired of those saying give me

    Christie believes in fiscal responsibility and believes in order to operate a state government correctly fiscal responsibility must come first. This means trimming the fat and getting rid of the status qua…in state government, it becomes clearly obvious that those who don’t see, or believe that in these times, fiscal responsibility needs to be thee priority … they’re part of the problem and not part of the solution. In addition, New Jersey has ranked 49th out 50 as the worst business friendly states, knowing this information allows us to know why job creation is so difficult in our state. The business climate in this state is so bad, that Honeywell in Morris county was getting ready to leave, the former democratic administrations have created this anti-business climate through its taxes and socialist mindset, the people of this state need to wake-up now or continue to be hurt by those we have elected to office.

  • Ray Cist

    Yeah and black people should be confined to zoos and be fed bananas and throw their own feces

    • Yolanda I.

      What does this have to do with Christie? U R Ignorant!

  • Joe

    Libs: Punish job creators then wonder where the jobs went.

  • Tom

    Well excuse Christie for wanting to keep the rest of NJ from turning into Camden or Newark…. places where the Dems. totally rule!

  • kelprod

    I would imagine that the only ones who booed Christie were those who feel entitled to the contents of other peoples wallets. I applaud Christie for working hard to protect hard working taxpayers from the vultures who feel other citizens owe them something via government transfer.

  • John

    Christie is truly a “disruptor” and is using his divide and conquer strategy to gut civil society, break the middle class, and destroy the last remnants of the unions. He is a political tool of our fascist overlords who see all who are not uberwealthy as the dregs of society to be crushed and exploited. The sooner a united front is assembled to confront this man and his puppet masters the better we will all be.

  • someone who cares

    If Christie is so great at his job then how come me and others like who want nothing more then to work can’t get a job. Unnemployment is still at a all time high in NJ because Christie is doing his job so well that he created jobs …oh wait a minute thats right he cut jobs not created them!!!!! But you go ahead and keep thinking that hes doin so well. People like you are the reason this state will continue to tank. Keep up the good work

    • Dan M

      sorry you’re out of a job but since you have a lot of time on your hands, why don’t you look at the past 15 years in this state and let the facts tell you why you’re out of a job – political incompetence of both parties, union intimidation and blackmail at the hands of everyone not union, and an out of control Court system that has legislated from the bench for too long wasting my tax dollars and yours.

  • Trenton

    The Teachers Union and Schoolboards in New Jersey are thugs in every sense of the word. They will turn on their own to further their agenda and in most cases do not have the student’s best interest at heart. Why so schoolboard officials and union leaders need to make such outrageous salaries? That money should be spent on the students and actual classroom teachers not 5 VP’s at a middle school or a Union rep party in Atlantic City.

  • Rich H

    Gov. Christy proclaims that teachers are uncaring, over-paid thugs on tenure. This statement is invalid in light of the very high ratings given to NJ education by non-partisan evaluators that can be easily found on the Web. In addition, tenure is not a lifetime guarantee of employee. Tenure simply means that due process must be followed before an employee can be dismissed. By the way, if tenure is the problem, you should realize that the excellent ratings for NJ schools has been achieved by tenured teachers.

    • J

      Hey Rich,You know what? As tax payers We have had it. We are sick and tired of are kids being indoctrinated and and having to pay through the nose for it in the form of insane real estate taxes!

    • Trenton

      Tenure is not the problem – it is the back door antics of the Union who do act like thugs to impose their will on the system and the state. Check on some of those excellent ratings and then talk to some teachers in the system about how they are reported and which districts are left out because of “paperwork errors”. They are Thugs and if you try to stand up to wrong doing in the system you are blackballed. The students are the ones who lose in the current system.

  • J

    People who do are more productive than people who care.You object to Christie because he tells it like it is.

  • jojo

    To Spartacus – Really…you got the nerve to call our President of the United States an idiot?! Grow up. Oops I’m sorry I did the same when Bush was in office. But If we compared IQs of Obama and Bush I guarantee you that there would be a huuuuuuge difference. As far as Christie, he is a hypocrite because he’s tough on everyone else except his rich friends.

    • Guess Who

      Bush’s IQ is about 126.

      No one knows what Ob ongo’s is. It’s sealed along with all his other records.

  • James

    Christie, About the only great thing that came out of the state of NJ….

  • Ron

    1) Christie for President!!!
    2) Walker for VP!!

    • grumpy

      That’s one way to have a Democratic landslide in 2012. Ha ha ha ha ha.

    • Johan

      And make Egypt look like a Sunday school picnic!

  • someone who cares

    I think Christie is a hypocrite, and has no rite to give any kind of commencement ceremony. He promised jobs and instead of creating jobs, hes cut jobs such as teachers, at the MVC, township workers. He needs to live up to electorial campaign, or step down and let somebody better do it.

    • J

      Governor Christie talks about self reliance and hard work.But these students who booed him have been taught that it’s better to be whining grievance junkies.

    • J

      You realize that teachers and township workers get payed by taxpayers and we have had it. You liberals have plunged the state into so much debt that there is no more money.So if your not happy get another job,just like everybody else.Welcome to my world.Life is tough where a cup.

  • Guess Who

    Kids, who are takers not givers, should only get a voice when they pay taxes.

  • Spartacus

    Christie rocks! Naive, young voters are the reason we have idiots like Obama in office. Maybe the voting age should be upped to 21.

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