But perhaps they were asking themselves if they failed in their goal of educating the next generation over the last four years or succeeded?
Students at the Florida school, upon learning DeVos had been chosen, had circulated petitions opposing her.
The HBCU leaders in attendance described a freaky meeting - the same one where aide Kellyanne Conway was pictured kneeling on a couch - with "very little listening to HBCU presidents."That's where, school officials said, the conversation started to bring DeVos to Bethune-Cookman's graduation".
There was no chance that was going to happen in 2017. DeVos has been a strong supporter for school choice, private, and charter schools - and she upset students at many historically black universities when she said they " were the original pioneers of school choice".
Jackson said degrees would be mailed to students if their behavior continued.
Jackson, an African-American and a Republican, and some others defended the choice of DeVos as the graduation speaker for the school, which was named for black educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune.
Many had anti-DeVos signs, although there were a few signs congratulating the graduates.
"You don't know her, and nor do you know her story", Jackson said, further upsetting students.More news: Woman shot by police in terror raid charged with murder plot
"If a school is not meeting a child's unique needs, then that school is failing that child", Devos said at summit run by Arizona State University and Global Silicon Valley.
"She made racist comments about HBCUs, she doesn't know anything about us, and she has the nerve to come down here and speak to us", graduate Donjele Simpson told the Washington Post.
The B-CU petition also objects to DeVos's recent withdrawal of protections the Obama administration put in place for students who have mismanaged or are defaulting on their student loans.
DeVos' statement, he said, "just shows she is out of touch". "Bethune-Cookman University doesn't need a photo op from the Trump administration, we need action done by this administration for all HBCUs".
"We are always about the business of making new friends, and if you don't have friends, it's very hard to raise money".
Outside the event, some students and alumni gathered to protest against DeVos.
At one point University President Edison Jackson took hold of the mic, warning students to settle down.
"DeVos was here to hear our differences and at the end of the day I think that's what happened", said Keith Holt, who received a masters degree in transformative leadership.