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?