Friday, April 10, 2009

ASU Won't Confer Honorary Doctorate On President Obama

The author of this piece is a little taken aback:

Universities typically confer an honorary degree on commencement speakers, particularly those who have reached the pinnacle of their career or achieved the top of their field. Arizona State University (ASU), though, says it will not confer an honorary degree on this year's commencement speaker, President Barack Obama, because "his body of work is yet to come"...

Writing two best-sellers? Not outstanding. Developing one of the largest grassroots organizations in the world? Nothing special. Becoming the first African American President of the United States? Good, but nothing to write home about.

What do you think?

Update, 4/11/09: That didn't take long.

Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University, tells POLITICO that the school is reconsidering its widely mocked plans not to give President Barack Obama an honorary degree when he speaks at commencement on May 13 and will “honor him in every way possible.”

“There was no intended slight,” Crow said by telephone from his office in Tempe. “We had not yet talked about what honors we might give him as our commencement speaker, and we still have a month to work all that out. We don’t want anyone to think we do not recognize what he has achieved and what he means in America.”

5 comments:

mazenko said...

I have to go with the writer on this. Agree with Obama or not, we are talking about one of the most significant accomplishments in recent history, and rhetorically speaking, his body of work in speeches, books, and policies is downright historical.

It's like Time's Man of the Year. Occasionally, it can be someone controversial. But the award is not about good or bad, just significant. Obama is astoundingly significant and has certainly assembled a Ph.D.'s worth of work.

Anonymous said...

Arizona refused to recognize MLK Day for years.

Anonymous said...

I think honorary degrees are a dumb idea (and really like Cal Tech's refusal to grant them), but the list of people who have them from ASU doesn't make me feel that Barack Obama doesn't measure up:

http://graduation.asu.edu/honorary/past

It appears that at least one grantee (Marilyn A. Papp) is the spouse of the person ASU wished to honor.

ASU is being silly. If they don't want to give him an honorary degree, they should invite someone else.

-Mark R.

allen (in Michigan) said...

"Obama is astoundingly significant and has certainly assembled a Ph.D.'s worth of work."

What work?

From everything I've read about the man he's made a determined effort to obscure his beliefs and has produced *no* scholarly work being distinguished as the only editor of the Harvard Law Review whose never had an article of legal scholarship published.

Ellen K said...

I also think honorary degrees are a waste of time and paper. Think how many marginal speakers have gotten them along with those of impeccable qualifications. Giving them out just cheapens the action. I won't go as far as some saying that President Obama has done nothing. He did write two books-which seems to be the new virtual announcement of candidacy on a national scale. And he is the POTUS, for what that's worth these days. Frankly, I am more concerned about the content of his speeches. I am appalled that as a president who has actively supported late term abortions that one of the flagship Catholic (big C) schools in the nation would ask him to speak. It may be a publicity feather in their cap, but it appears hypocritical to me.