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Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Arizona State should give Obama honorary degree

Instead of naming a scholarship to thank President Obama, who has barely started his first term of presidency, give him the honorary degree.  

Arizona State University (ASU) has named one of the largest scholarships after the 44th President of the U.S., Barack Obama. Now, Obama as far as I know has no relation to Arizona. If the school were in Hawaii or Illinois, I can see the honor of the scholarship.  

The scholarship is to recognize the president after the university decided not to award Obama a honorary degree, after he delivered the commencement speech in May. However, that issue now is being discussed within the college.

It is not that I am against Obama and his progressive policies, but I see the problem behind naming a scholarship after a president who is currently in office before we can see any measurable progress in his administration.

The scholarship is indeed a response to recognize the president. What does the scholarship mean if the eponymous figure has no roots, or background from ASU?   It seems meaningless to me.  

According to the ASU Web site it is, “In recognition of President Obama’s commitment to educational access and to an entire career dedicated to public service.”   However, what was wrong with the previous name, as it advocated the same purpose?

ASU President Michael Crow states that the decision not give a degree is still in effect, as ASU does not grant sitting politicians honorary degrees, “based on the very practical realities of operating a public university in our political environment.”   (ASUnews)

 Crow defends his position, explaining that ASU has not given any degrees to their sitting senators or governors unlike other colleges (ASUwebdevil.com).

Some other schools have identified no significant issues with giving honorary degrees to sitting politicians. Obama is to receive one from Duke on May 17, where he will also deliver a commencement speech.  

The only reason behind ASU’s policy I can see is an effort to maintain objectivity. It seems to make politics too involved. The honorary degree in my view is a thank you for a service to the college, and to the nation.

In this case the honorary degree would be thanks for a speech, and is to be viewed in no fashion as endorsement for the president.

The scholarship implies something done to change the college, not just a speech.  

Both an honorary degree and a scholarship remember and recognize President Obama. The honorary degree is the more practical choice as Obama does not have any life experience in Arizona compared to Hawaii or Illinois.

So, ASU, give Obama the honorary degree.

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  • B

    Betty WardJul 15, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    In President Obama’s commemcement address he mentioned the young lady receiving 4 degrees. No one mentioned her name or asked her to stand. I have since read the address and it is not printed in the address, WHY not!!

    Should ASU at least print her story in the newspaper???

  • A

    ASUmindApr 24, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Great story. I am an ASU grad (BS and MPA) and the university totally blew this one. Then they came out with some bogus excuses for not giving the President an honorary degree.

    The lack of a portfolio excuse is pathetic and stupid. I don’t need to go into the details. President of the US is portfolio enough for 99.9% of the world’s population to justify an honorary degree from ASU. Remember it’s an “honorary” degree, i.e. is simply says we respect you and the importance of the work you do. By not awarding it to the President of the US, ASU is just saying that they do not respect the man or the office.

    The other excuse floating around is that ASU stopped giving honorary degrees to politicians while they were in office in 2002. The problem with this excuse is that ASU gave an honorary degree to a political official from China a few years later. ASU needs to work on its timeline or qualify their political rule to only apply to officials from non-communist countries. It is obsurd either wau around.

    Of course Obama is above ASU’s petty political back biting. After all he has honorary degrees from major universities like Northwestern, Notre Dame (forthcoming), and a host of other major universities. So, ASU just thrusts itself in the pariah university category. ASU also has insulted its students and alumni with this calous and unpatriotic action. Alumni giving is down, many Alumni have boycotted the university until Crow is no longer in charge, and student transfers are up.

    Obama got snubbed by Crow and his cronies in an undemocratic smear campaign. It is no surprise that African American are not represent in the fake process ASU has adopted to distribute honorary degrees. It is a university run like a bananna republic.

    Shame on you ASU. Crow must go.

  • D

    Debra J. WhiteApr 24, 2009 at 7:42 am

    That Mr. Crow denied an honorary degree to our first African American doesn’t surprise me. Crow has a long history of mistreating minorities, stretching back to Columbia where he served as vice provost. He tried to crush prominent Prof. Graciela Chichilnisky. Due to Crow unyielding bigotry the case dragged on for 16 years at considerable expense to Columbia and to the professor. She won a huge settlement after a trial. Crow carried his unapologetic bigorty to ASU. For example, he fired 1/3 of the minority faculty at ASU West in recent years for no good reason. He fired a tenured African American despite the unanimous ruling of a faculty committee that the prof. be reinstated. No African American served as dean or vp under Crow. Despite his claims to welcome diversity, ASU’s own records show the opposite. In 2002 the year Crow was hired 13 African American women held tenure. In 2007 that number had not changed. I could go on and on but what’s the point. Crow’s behavior shows that he does not like African Americans.