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Arizona State: Obama Not Worthy of Degree

Arizona State has invited President Obama to be its commencement speaker but has decided not to award him an honorary degree, Dawn Teo reports for HuffPo.

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.”

ASU Media Relations Director Sharon Keeler says, unlike other universities, the processes for selecting commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients are independent. She says that honorary degrees are given “for an achievement of eminence” and that Obama was not considered for an honorary degree because his body of achievements, at this time, does not fit within that criteria.

Teo castigates ASU for the choice, noting Obama has written two best-sellers (to which Don Surber quips, “I guess writing two memoirs doesn’t count.”), edited Harvard Law Review, and gotten elected president.  Further, some years back, ASU awarded honorary degrees to eminent Arizonans Barry Goldwater and Sandra Day O’Connor as a young senator and newly-minted Supreme Court Justice, respectively.

AllaPundit says “It’s funny ’cause it’s true.” While amusing, though, the decision is puzzling.

Has Obama achieved enough to merit an honorary doctorate from a second-tier university?  Probably.  Could ASU make an argument otherwise?  Undoubtedly; indeed, they apparently have (although I expect they’ll soon have a change of heart). [Update: Tada!! It took less than a day.]

But here’s the thing:  If the job of a commencement speaker is to send off the graduates — who have already spent hundreds of hours being educated by people with earned doctorates — with some words of wisdom, why invite someone to perform the task whom you don’t deem worthy of a meaningless, honorary doctorate?  ASU says they consider these things separately.  Fine.  But why wouldn’t you ensure that the commencement speaker selectee would be deemed worthy of the honorary degree before sending out the invite?

via memeorandum

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Teo castigates ASU for the choice, noting Obama has written two best-sellers (to which Don Surber quips, “I guess writing two memoirs doesn’t count.”),

    Well, his name is on them, anyway. I’m given to understand an uncredited ghost writer usually handles such things. Bill Ayers,for example. the second book, particularly, was labeled an obvious collaberative effort by ‘Tingles’ Matthews in Feb of 08.

    Jon Favreau is another name that keeps popping up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  2. […] Don Surber, Outside The Beltway, Jules Critteden, Hot Air Sphere: Related Content If you liked my post, feel free to […]

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  3. […] Don Surber, Outside The Beltway, Jules Critteden, Hot […]

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  4. ASU Says Obama To Inexperienced For An Honorary Degree…

    Starting your day off with Teh Funny (how did it start where Interwebers wrote the Teh?) Arizona State: Obama unready for degree President Barack Obama may be delivering a commencement address at Arizona State University this Spring – one of……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Our Paul says:

    Grab your helmet and dig yourself a deep, deep foxhole for the incoming will be fast and furious. The italicized words are bound to get you in trouble.

    Has Obama achieved enough to merit an honorary doctorate from a second-tier university? (My italics, OP)

    As I write, ASU graduates, undergraduates, and parents of students are sharpening their pencils. Meanwhile, indignant Obama_philes frothing at the mouth, at both the ASU and your need to quote Allahpundit (AKA Hot Air), are bound to come up with a verbal grenade or two…

    And then there is Bithead, whose luminous mind will always find the crease in anybodies writings to wiggle in and lay bare his true conservative soul. In this case, to shout out what ever vile mud about Obama is handy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  6. tom p says:

    worthy of a meaningless, honorary doctorate?

    A question: what does one have to do to become worthy of “meaningless” and why would that be desirable?
    OK, that was 2 questions, so as long as I’m on a roll, I’ll add a 3rd: Why would any one care?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  7. Michael says:

    I’d be just as happy if universities just stopped giving out meaningless honorary degrees completely. Him them a plaque recognizing their achievements if that’s all you mean to do, but only give out degrees for those you feel merit degrees.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Pug says:

    Obama should go and give his speech and then forget about Arizona State. Nobody cares about Arizona State.

    The socialist football team from Berkeley will be there soon enough to slap the Sun Devils around for a few hours.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  9. Bithead says:

    Vile mud? That pols hire ghost writers?
    Please.

    Seems to me, it goes directly to Don’s point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  10. DavidL says:

    In his circa forty-seven years, the only ability Barack Obama has demonstrated in the ability to attain office, be it by appointment or election. There is scant record of any achievement serving in office. Obama college trancripts are sealed. He appeared to have phoned it in to the Harvard Law Review. As lawyer, he name appears on but few case. The books he claims to have written are language foreign to him, to wit articulate.

    As a state legislature, Obama’s specialty was voting present. As a Senator, he chaired a sub-cmmmittee which never meet, sponsored virtually no legislation and was absent from every important legislative debate.

    Does Arizons State want to give a honorary degree for reading a teleprompter? If so, Obsma is qualified.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  11. Bithead says:

    I’d be just as happy if universities just stopped giving out meaningless honorary degrees completely. Him them a plaque recognizing their achievements if that’s all you mean to do, but only give out degrees for those you feel merit degrees.

    (Chuckle) Look; if the honorary degree isn’t really a degree, then the purpose for being there isn’t about getting the degree, either. But given the reaction to the degree getting pulled, it’s equally clear that it’s far from ‘meaningless’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  12. Michael says:

    But given the reaction to the degree getting pulled, it’s equally clear that it’s far from ‘meaningless’.

    The meaning is in the giving, not the gift. Nobody is complaining that Obama isn’t getting a degree from ASU, they’re complaining (wrongly in my opinion, but alas) that ASU quite visibly refused to give Obama an honor customarily given to commencement speakers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Bithead says:

    Look; They’d bitch up a blue streak about any perceived slight given The One.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  14. Michael says:

    Look; They’d bitch up a blue streak about any perceived slight given The One.

    Yes, and you’ll continue to bitch about any perceived slight made by him. What’s your point?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. Kevin says:

    the medias big lie,,, McCain and Palin would have got it but they did not have enough experience and now they are bringing up his service and their’s nothing there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  16. Bithead says:

    What’s your point?

    As I think I already suggested, it’s far from ‘meaningless’.

    And Michael? Pay particular attention to Kevin’s comment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. MM says:

    And Michael? Pay particular attention to Kevin’s comment.

    Since there’s some serious pronoun salad going on in Kevin’s comment, howsabout you translate it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. An Interested Party says:

    I’m sure that someone who has real degrees from Columbia and Harvard isn’t too devastated that he isn’t getting an honorary degree from an august institution of higher learning like Arizona State…

    re: Bithead | April 10, 2009 | 07:05 am

    Obviously your ODS knows no bounds…do you have any real proof to substantiate your silly accusation? Any at all? Apart from rabidly partisan right wing websites like National Review Online or Redstate, that is…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  19. tdkflorida says:

    The President of the United States is not accomplished enough to get a degree from ASU. LOL! Are you kidding me.

    * Lawrence Douglas Wilder: The nation’s first African-American governor in Virginia received an honorary degree and delivered the commencement address at ASU in 2004.

    * Rita Colwell: A microbiologist who was the 11th director of the National Science Foundation, received an honorary degree in 2004.

    * John Christian: A long-serving lawyer and community activist, received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in 2002.

    * Jane Dee Hull: Arizona’s first elected female governor received an honorary degree.

    * Alfredo Gutierrez: A long time Arizona legislator, was given an honorary doctorate in 2000.

    * Kim Campbell: Canada’s 19th prime minister, received an honorary degree in 2005.

    * Lord John Browne of Madingley: The President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Chief Executive of BP, received an honorary degree in 2005.

    * Peterson Zah: The one time president of the Navajo Nation was honored in 2005.

    * Rex G. Maughan: The founder, president, and CEO of Forever Living Products and Terry Labs, was honored in 2002.

    Cut their Federal money and I bet they would think it over.

    They must be all Republican Right Wing fanatics like some of the people on this site.

    Bit ME!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  20. Anderson says:

    Here’s a question:

    Who was the last sitting U.S. president to give a commencement address, and *not* be offered an honorary degree?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Michael says:

    Pay particular attention to Kevin’s comment.

    I have no idea WTF Kevin was trying to say. As MM suggested, perhaps you can help us parse that seemingly random stream of words?

    Or is this like your link to an obviously unrelated story that was followed by a prediction that I would claim it was unrelated? Seriously, are you just messing with me now?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Bithead says:

    Obviously your ODS knows no bounds…do you have any real proof to substantiate your silly accusation? Any at all? Apart from rabidly partisan right wing websites like National Review Online or Redstate, that is…

    I gave you around 20,000 links on the point. If that doesn’t answer your question, it seems clear I’m not the one with the syndromatic issues.

    I have no idea WTF Kevin was trying to say

    Seems fairly clear to me, albeit slightly misworded. Then again, I’m not uncofmfortable with the conclusions he draws, either. (Chuckle)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  23. Michael says:

    I gave you around 20,000 links on the point.

    Really? 20,000? Really?

    Seems fairly clear to me, albeit slightly misworded. Then again, I’m not uncofmfortable with the conclusions he draws, either. (Chuckle)

    Alright chuckles, then you and Kevin can babble on together about how “Obama is teh suck”, or whatever the hell his comment was all about. Let me know when you’re interested in having an actual conversation again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. just me says:

    I don’t get the point of honorary degrees-it isn’t like somebody is going to put it on their resume as if they earned it.

    I do think the question of when was the last time a president gave an address there and didn’t get a degree is a worthy one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. An Interested Party says:

    re: Bithead at April 10, 2009 14:02

    So, Google searches are now what is used to meet the burden of proof for fatuous accusations? Careful there, you’re starting to slip into Triumph/ZRIII territory…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. anjin-san says:

    Its noteable that bitsy and company have not a shred of evidence that Obama was not the author of his books. Just a link to a rant site where a writer claims there is much evidence that Obama’s work was ghosted. Of course he does not actually produce any evidence… Such is the intellectual life of the right.

    Julius Caesar wrote “Conquest of Gall”, a masterpiece. It was so well written that it is used to study correct use of Latin to this day, and it is a pleasure to read even in English. Concise, articulate, a huge amount of information with writing so crisp it is a page turner…

    Ronald Reagan, unfairly accused of being an intellectual flyweight, was a fine writer.

    The fact that bit is reduced to grasping the flimsiest of straws in his quest to slime Obama, it telling in of itself. With the economy showing signs of life and confidence improving, leaky vessels such as those piloted by Captain Chuckles are all the right has.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0