College: Smart Picks?

It's a seasonal hazard for colleges: students love to see the famous onstage at graduation, but odds are that somebody will get upset. At Boston College, some faculty are protesting the fact that Condoleezza Rice was invited to speak at its May 22 ceremony, complaining that Iraq war policies conflict with BC's Jesuit values. And at Brandeis, there's uproar over the decision to award an honorary degree to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner on May 21.

Some Jewish groups are circulating Kushner quotations--totally out of context, he says--that portray him as anti-Israel, a problem at a university where half the students (and most of the donors) are Jewish. The buzz at Brandeis is that trustees invited Kushner, who is Jewish, before "Munich" (he wrote the screenplay) opened last winter and brought new attention to his admittedly complex views on Israel. Some trustees regret the invitation, but Brandeis says it won't be rescinded. Kushner is unapologetic, and is getting his cap and gown ready. "Anybody who thinks there's a simple line to be taken on the Middle East is an idiot," he says.