April 10th, 2009
05:09 PM ET
9 years ago

New commencement headache for WH

The commencement season controversies are continuing for the White House.

The commencement season controversies are continuing for the White House.

(CNN) - The commencement season controversies are continuing for the White House with Arizona State University's decision not to award President Obama an honorary degree when he addresses graduates next month.

The university says that the president's achievements have yet to rate the honor, and is directing reporters to use a statement given to the Associated Press. "His body of work is yet to come. That's why we're not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency," Media Relations Director Sharon Keller told the AP Thursday.

The university's guidelines say the degree is merited by "significant contributions to education and society over the course of a person's career," though Sandra Day O'Connor and Barry Goldwater - both Arizonans - received the honor after the latter had served just over one term in the Senate, and the former was roughly three years into her Supreme Court tenure. Also honored: activist Cesar Chavez, legendary Arizona senator and former presidential candidate Mo Udall, and broadcaster Walter Cronkite.

The White House has not commented on ASU's decision.

Last month, the National Right to Life Committee called on the University of Notre Dame to rescind its invitation to President Obama to speak at that school's May commencement, and the bishop for the Ft. Wayne/South Bend diocese said he planned to boycott the university's graduation ceremony. Bishop John D'Arcy said his decision "is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life."

Notre Dame has said it has no plans to rescind the president's invite.

This year, President Obama will also address the graduating class at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (377 Responses)
  1. Frank Taylor

    The reason for this happening is pretty well black and white. If I was Obama I would boycott these institutions and not bother addressing them in any way.

    Let them get a lunatic like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh to give the address.

    April 10, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. Jane

    Obama's education:

    – Graduated: Columbia University (1983) – Major: Political Science
    – Law Degree from Harvard (1991) – Major: J.D. – Magna Cum Laude
    Oh yeah, and he is president of the United States

    I think he will be fine without some handout from a lesser school than the the schools above in which he earned his degrees. (This says more about the school than it does the president)

    April 10, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  3. MARY

    To Bishop D'Arcy, isn't it a little hypocritical to be so judgmental when many priests molested young boys. Boy, if we could all be perfect.

    April 10, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  4. Grace

    Given it's past history of bestowing honorary degrees., has Arizona State University just revealed itself as the new Bob Jones U of the Southwest? ASU's hypocrisy is astounding.

    April 10, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. SC Trojan

    Mr. Obama,

    Come to USC, We'll show you how we treat Arizona schools and for that matter, the University of Notre Dame. You are always welcome here.

    Fight On!

    April 10, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. Ali

    Kudos to the University of Notre Dame for not backing down!

    April 10, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. FactCheck

    So it's perfectly fine to award honorary degrees to Blake Edwards (director of the Pink Panther) and Jerry Colangelo (owner of the Phoenix Suns) and real estate attorney John Christian but the President of the United States hasn't contributed enough to society? I guess he'll just have to live with the shame of owning just a Harvard Law Degree.

    April 10, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  8. please

    I'm sure President Obama is going to resign his position since he will not be given an honorary degree.

    Boy, thank god he doesn't have to worry about the economy, housing market, pirates, or anything important.

    April 10, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. KJ

    I thought institutions of higher learning were places where ALL opinions could be voiced and a free exchange of ideas could take place. What we don't need is more division based on religious beliefs and viewpoints. (See "Middle East") Last time I checked, even God hadn't stopped the devil from speaking to the hearts and minds of men, so are we more holy than God? Relax, truth will prevail.

    April 10, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  10. B-Koi

    President Obama deserves the utmost thanks and support from all citizens. This man has put himself and his family at grave risk to try and heal an ailing nation! You , out there, who put him down, rail against him and pick him apart at every little chance you get, should be ashamed! People in other Countries, like me, appreciate him so much, and have great admiration for him. It is too bad his own people DON'T!!!!! That attitude is probably why Your Country is in such a mess! Give the guy a break, and help him with constructive criticism. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and whine.

    April 10, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. Mike in NYC

    Sacrilegious, it's.

    Outraged libs to play the race card in five, four, three, two, one ...

    April 10, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. rich

    If I were Obama, I would tell ASU to shove it! But knowing Obama, he will most likely show up, give a hell of a speach with class & dignity, make ASU hold their heads in shame, and walk away with his 1000 watt smile.

    April 10, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Jimmy Boy

    Wow! They are not going to just hand it to him? How about for being the first black president?

    April 10, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Kendall

    It had to come from McCain state
    -The First African American President of Harvard Law Review
    -The First Community Orginizer to become president
    -The First African American to become presdient
    -Changing US policy toward Cuba in a half century

    Not giving enough to the society, When compared to Walter Cronkite, or a one term Senator

    Wow, I bet they supported McCain

    April 10, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. Daryl in Seattle

    Good to know the heads of ASU are prejudice and a little upset their hometown boy, McCain, didn't get elected. Won't be sending my kids there....

    April 10, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. Phil Rizzo

    Arizona, one of the most conservative states in the Union, struggled with the concept of the MLK holiday, finaly it was forced by circumstance to honor it. Can we safely say conservatives are generally prejudiced? Not exactly, as Ronald Regan signed the bill in 1983 to honor MLK with a national holiday.

    April 10, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. Lee

    This is so laughable! The man is firsty the POTUS, served in the senate, was a constitutional lawyer, president of the Harvard Law Review, a 2 time best selling author, and EARNED 2 degrees from Ivy League institutions, and this sub par STATE school wants to deny him an honorary degree!!??? REALLY!!??? Thats laughable! They should be honored that the POTUS chose to bestow their students the privilege of being addressed by the President!

    The nerve! Im just floored by the comedy of it all! Shame on ASU!

    April 10, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  18. trace800

    This is very sad. It is an attempt to make the president look bad and give more talking points to the Right.

    It is an insult to the president on the highest order. I would guess if Palin was the VP and came to speak they would have gave her one.

    This to me has a hint of racism in it, let’s face it if BO was white and had accomplished the same he would be held as “all world” and would have been the Honorary degree.

    I guess he has to settle for “all world” they seem to appreciate him a little more.

    Can some one post the names of the yahoos that made that decision so they can be petitioned.

    April 10, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. Dori in AZ

    Not surprising. ASU's biggest claims to fame are an occasionally decent football team and as a major party school. Obama should be pleased that ASU's President Crow doesn't see him as being worthy. President Crow is a great example of the Peter Principle. President Obama is a far smarter and more accomplished individual than anyone in the ASU hierarchy. Actually, you could lump several members of the ASU hierarchy together, and Obama would run circles around them! Makes me sad to be an ASU alumni....

    April 10, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. debbie

    He has enough degrees anyway, that he DID earn. I am sure that this has nothing to do with the Senator from AZ does it?

    April 10, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. awaitingmoderationby CNN

    Whoa, some folks are actually treating Obama with some common sense. The way I see things he will never get that degree.

    April 10, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. Lee

    Like Obama needs an honorary degree from Arizona State anyway! The man already holds degrees from Columbia and Harvard – ie., REAL schools. In my opinion, they can keep their stinking degree and shove it. Who cares, ASU?

    April 10, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. HonestMistake

    Maybe he should just give commencement addresses at European colleges, where he can find a more adoring crowd.

    April 10, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. Yet another Ex-Catholic

    I will return to the Catholic Church when it learns to stay out of politics. I'm in my early 30's and most the people around my age that I know have also given up on Catholicism. If the Church does not change, it is going to fade away in this country as the older generations die off.

    We were raised believing that the Catholic Church was ancient and beautiful religion. Now, it has reduced itself to the level of petty right-wing evangelicalism and people who cover up pedophilia. What a shame.

    April 10, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16