White House

Rutgers University Spent Nearly $1.5M for Obama's 2016 Commencement Address

The cost was 58 percent more than what the university spent the previous year when Bill Nye "The Science Guy" addressed the school's graduates

Final accounting shows Rutgers University spent close to $1.5 million on last year's commencement ceremony headlined by then-President Barack Obama. 

The cost is 58 percent more than the university spent the previous year when Bill Nye "The Science Guy" addressed the school's graduates, NJ.com reported

The roughly $523,000 in additional funding went toward more police, a traffic safety consultant to coordinate road closures and other expenses. 

"In 2016, about 52,000 people — nearly 50 percent more than the previous year — attended the event," said Rutgers spokeswoman Karen Smith. "The difference in costs reflects additional expenses to accommodate the crowd, ranging from extra buses to additional rental chairs and programs." 

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The total $1.43 million bill does not include the cost of flying Obama to campus by helicopter or protection by the Secret Service. 

"Any requests from the U.S. Secret Service to provide protection for President Obama were separate from the expenses listed above and are being handled by the U.S. Secret Service," Smith said. "Due to security concerns, we are unable to provide detail on those services or their costs." 

Obama's speech was a highlight of the school's 250th anniversary year after students flooded the White House with requests seeking his appearance. 

Although Rutgers usually pays graduation speakers a $35,000 fee, the Democrat spoke for free. 

University officials announced earlier this month that musician and actor Steven Van Zandt will be the speaker at this year's commencement exercise on May 15. Van Zandt is known both for being a longtime member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band as well as for his acting work in "The Sopranos."

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