Some Tulane students feel 'cheated' Hoda Kotb tapped as grad speaker; see Karen Swensen's rousing response _lowres

Pictured: (l-r) Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford -- "Today" show co-hosts. Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC

About 200 Tulane students signed a short-lived petition Thursday, saying they felt "cheated" the university chose TODAY show host Hoda Kotb -- someone who's "hardly" inspirational -- as its commencement speaker.

Kotb, who's well-known in New Orleans for her time spent at WWL-TV, said in an emailed response to the station, "Forget the petition, I love the response. I love New Orleans! See you soon!"

The petition was taken down by Thursday afternoon. A petition supporting Kotb has surfaced and had 600 signatures by Friday morning.

WWL-TV anchor Karen Swensen, a long-time colleague and friend of Kotb's, penned a passionate response aimed at Kotb's critics.

"Deserve better? There is none. (Kotb) has earned everything she’s ever acquired, including the respect of every single peer she’s ever had," Swensen wrote. "She has integrity, grit, unfailing optimism, the most generous soul and the most humble heart. I, for one, hope my daughter, my only child, grows up to be just like her."

Click here to read Swensen's full response and WWL-TV's full report.