How Out of Touch are our Universities


icon_digg5 Several days ago I posted my feelings in an article entitled: “Embarrassment for Whom – Notre Dame, The President or America” where I questioned the gall of Notre Dame, a well respected university and a trademark of our country; extending an invitation, requesting the President Obama speak at their commencement exercise’s, which was quickly followed by a number of Catholic leaders, along with some school officials, who attempted to have the university retract the school’s invitation for this event.

Arizona State University, ASU, not to be out done by Notre Dame has pulled the same dirty country wide embarrassing trick on our President, only with a slightly differing twist. Their invitation was extended and accepted and afterwards publicly announced that because of “lack of experience” the President would not receive an honorary degree from the university.  How childish!

Now, in an article by Politico, authored by Mike Allen and entitled: “Obama may get ASU honor after all” we find the university is reconsidering its position of awarding our president their some what meaningless (in substance) degree.

Here are a few excerpts from Mike Allen’s article:

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.”

A formal decision has not been made, but it was clear from Crow’s comments that the university is headed in that direction. ASU risked becoming a national punch line if it did not quickly retreat from its policy against conferring honorary degrees on a sitting politician.

ASU’s student daily, the State Press, touched off a firestorm this week when it reported under the headline, “Obama won’t receive ASU honorary degree”:

ASU’s president said officials now are considering conferring an honorary degree, regardless of local custom. “We intend to recognize him in multiple ways,” Crow said. “As to this issue relative to the honorary degree, we don’t know where it came from.”

Here’s my point!

  • At both of these institutions, students voiced outrage at the university’s decision(s) to impose retractions or unjustified conditions.
  • Are our leading US higher institutions of learning so out of touch with the tuition paying students?
  • How politically involved and motivated are the president(s) and/or school officials of these universities in deciding who the commencement speaker is and under what circumstances?
  • Don’t these schools have internal committee meetings and approval votes before embarrassing themselves in the media?
  • Ok enough, you decide, but for me; my views have changed (not for the good) of both these two formerly respected schools of learning.

Updated Video(s):

Part 1 – President Speaks @ Arizona State University Commencement

Part 2 – President Speaks @ Arizona State University Commencement

Newswire Updates:

Lisa Derrick: We’re Not Worthy! Obama Headlines ASU Graduation with Alice Cooper
from The HuffingtonPost.com by Lisa Derrick

Snake dancing, stage blood-covered shock rocker turned Republican golfer Alice Cooper will open for President Barack Obama at Arizona State University’s graduation ceremony May 13.

Cooper who’s shared the stage with the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Groucho Marx and Johnny Carson, says:

Of all the people I’ve ever shared a stage with, Obama is the biggest rock star. And I’d like to thank him, in advance, for changing the national anthem to ‘Schools Out.

It’s all come full circle:

In 1983 Arizona’s own John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in 1987 supported Arizona Republican Governor Evan Mecham’s rescinding of the state holiday in honor of King created by the Democratic predecessor. In the face of overwhelming public disgust for this position, McCain eventually backed down and encouraged state recognition of the holiday.

ASU Renaming Scholarship Program After Obama
Sam Stein, | HuffPost Reporting From DC

After a day of withering criticism over its decision not to award President Barack Obama an honorary degree, Arizona State University announced on Saturday that it would expand a scholarship program in the president’s name.

Obama Gets Scholarship, But No Degree
from ABC News: Home Page

Arizona State announced it will name a scholarship after President Obama.

Update 15 Apr 09:

ASU Honorary Degree Policy For Sitting Politicians Not Documented
Dawn Teo, Arizona Politics Posted April 14, 2009 | 08:20 PM (EST)

One sitting politician did receive an honorary degree from ASU and the university has now admitted that the policy was only “verbal” and never documented.

Update 17 Apr 09:

POLL: 79% Of ASU Faculty Say Obama Should Receive Honorary Degree
from Huffington Post | Posted April 17, 2009 | 03:38 PM (EST)

When news broke last week that ASU may not confer the customary honorary degree on Obama, it ignited a public backlash and a media firestorm. This week, Thorpe and Menendez, who felt faculty had no voice in the process, sent a poll to all ASU faculty via email asking each faculty member to reply with “yes” or “no” in the subject line.


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