"The invitation was extended in February and Ms. Trump offered to record a congratulatory message to graduates to be played during our event," WSU Tech President Sheree Utash said in a statement Thursday evening. "In light of the social justice issues brought forth by George Floyd’s death, I understand and take responsibility that the timing of the announcement was insensitive. For this, I’m sorry that was never the intent, and I want you to know I have heard you and we are responding."
Grads will be able to view congratulatory video messages from 30 people including Ivanka Trump, Utash said.
WSU Tech's decision came after a professor at its partner school, Wichita State University, wrote an open letter opposing the invitation to Ivanka Trump.
"Ivanka [Trump], obviously, represents her father’s administration as one of his closest advisors," assistant professor of photography Jennifer Ray wrote in a letter posted on a WSU student-run news site. "To many Americans, that administration has come to signify the worst of our country, particularly in its recent actions toward those peacefully protesting against racist police brutality."
Ivanka Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the WSU Tech National Center for Aviation Training in October to promote the president's "Pledge to America's Workers" that encourages businesses and groups to create new opportunities for workers, including apprenticeships, continuing education, on-the-job-training and retraining.
"When I came to your campus last fall, I learned your mantra: 'building success with your own hands,'" Ivanka Trump's prepared remarks for Saturday said. "In this graduating class are men and women who can run an assembly line, build a field hospital, police our communities, respond to emergencies, keep America connected through internet and phones, care for our senior citizens and our most vulnerable patients, use 3D printers to make medical equipment, draw blood to save lives – and so many other essential services during this time."
Utash is on the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board that Ivanka Trump co-chairs. The school had to cancel its May commencement because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Colleges throughout the country were forced to hold virtual commencements as many graduates confront a bleak job market because of the coronavirus crisis. However, economists were pleasantly surprised Friday when the Labor Department said employers added 2.5 million jobs in May, although there are still an estimated 21 million Americans out of work.
FOX Business' inquiry to Ivanka Trump was not returned at the time of publication.