Thursday, May 14, 2009

And the Bonehead University Move of the semester goes to. . . . .

Arizona State University -- Congratulations!

Undoubtedly many of you have read about the controversy over Notre Dame's decision to have President Obama speak at its commencement. If you somehow missed the firestorm, conservative and Catholic commentators took issue with the university's decision because of Obama's support for abortion rights. The president and board of Notre Dame should be lauded for standing up to the critics and not rescinding the offer.

At the other end of the spectrum is Arizona State University, which invited Obama to speak at its commencement yesterday but declined to give him an honorary degree, normally an honor it bestows on its commencement speaker. ASU defended its decision by stating that,

“Because President Obama’s body of work is yet to come, it’s inappropriate to recognize him at this time,” Keeler said.

Previous recipients of honorary degrees from ASU had long-established careers in their fields of work, Keeler said, and they aren’t necessarily affiliated with ASU.

Last spring, the University awarded an honorary degree to James Duderstadt, a professor emeritus of the University of Michigan and an international leader in higher education.

In 2006, degrees went to Wu Qidi, vice minister of education of the People’s Republic of China, and Frank H. T. Rhodes, former president of Cornell University.

Keeler said there are typically only one or two people each year who receive an honorary degree from ASU, though the University will not award one this spring.

“It’s someone who’s really outstanding, who has made outstanding contributions in their field,” she said.

Guess the president of the United States just isn't "outstanding" enough, including the time he spent in the U.S. Senate, in contrast to the accomplishments of Jim Duderstadt, Frank Rhodes, or Wu Qidi.

You have to feel just a little sorry for the poor university spokeswoman, Sharon Keeler, who got shtupped with the responsibility of putting her name on this statement. Would have been nice if Mike "Let Them Be Furloughed" Crow (he's the guy on Obama's right in the photo above) had been the more public face of this decision.

ASU's decision would almost be understandable, if it didn't stand in direct contrast to the honorary degree it awarded a little over three years ago to former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, who served in office for less than five months. So according to ASU, five months as Canadian PM is more deserving of an honorary degree than 113 days as President of the US? Hmmmmm, may want to rethink that decision.

It wasn't easy for ASU to win the Bonehead University Move award for this decision. You may remember this as the same university that told some employees that they had to take up to 15 days of furlough leave after they had been told they were being laid off in a few months.

For a nice take on ASU's decision, check out the Daily Show's story.

No comments:

Post a Comment