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. The Last Patriot

    Well in his defense I'd say the president has done quite a bit already. Unfortunately it mostly includes bankrupting the next few generations and bloating government at an alarming rate.

    April 10, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  2. Eisener

    Mr. President – I hope you cancel this appointment. You are my President and I do not want your precious minutes wasted on these people.

    April 10, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. Jerry Paul

    Ok so what does boycotting Obama has to do with the Bishop because last I check to impose your free will on someone whose free will told him to speak at an inivitation presented by a skill was up to both partied decision.

    April 10, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. Todd

    Barack Obama accomplished what NO ONE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY has accomplished. But for the good old AZ – not good enough. Sounds like sour grapes from John McCain country. LOL

    April 10, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. Pa for Obama

    They're just mad that Obama beat their man McCain in last year's election

    April 10, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. DJ

    Because being elected America's first black president is not that big of an accomplishment in some people's eyes, apparently.
    I just don't get some colleges.

    April 10, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. Grant

    Someone over there is playing incredibly petty politics, and it should bite them on the backside. Yeah... the man's only become the President of the United States, no way does that meet Arizona State's rigorous criteria for an achievement significant enough to warrant an honorary degree. Pffft... "leader of the free world"... big deal. First African American in history to pull it off... trivial!

    Obama has ACTUAL degrees from Columbia and Harvard for cripes sake, and mighty Arizona State thinks he lacks the necessary resume to be bestowed with an honorary degree? Whoever made this decision is clearly not over McCain losing.

    April 10, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. MikeinFXBG

    So what, Obama doesn't pick up another peice of useless paper to hang on his "I love me wall" oh, boohoo. As ASU said, what has Obama done to receive an honorary degree? In fact, honor degrees mean nothing.
    Obama has other things to worry about: like figuring how he's going to put a muzzle on that dimwitted VP of his. Biden is Obama's Dan Quayle.

    April 10, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. Rob

    Mccain lost and the media keep treating him like the winner....

    April 10, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  10. Diana - Saint Louis

    I'm a little confuse about this one! Me thinks it's he's color Period

    April 10, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. I used to like CNN but not anymore!

    All these racist, dirtball Obama haters need to be put on their own island and left there to rot! These people pass themselves off as mature, educated people when at the end of the day they they're no better than an overgrown child with binky issues and a full diaper! GROW UP CHILDREN!!!!!!!!!

    April 10, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. Macushla

    One change

    Boy…I bet President Obama is going to be so disappointed not to attend ASU — Not! Why on earth would he care? And why did ASU feel the need to put out a press release to say they're not going to "honor" him. Are they so desperate for publicity. Another non-issue CNN — you're getting good at them.

    April 10, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  13. Paul

    How ignorant. It's just like a "man of the cloth" to continue to divide the people of the world. I was raised in a Catholic family, but now I raise my children in a manner that I hope will lead them not to recognize others for differences. I would rather they embrace diversity.

    So, Obama has a different opinion than many Catholics on one topic. This one difference should not lead him to be excluded. Bridging gaps between the many ideologies of the world is and will always be Obama's hallmark. It’s this leading by example that makes him so great.

    April 10, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. US Newsman

    Shameful and unbecoming. ASU still mad about McCain loss.

    April 10, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Scott in Atlanta

    It's funny how CNN show this picture of President Obama as if he is dismayed by ASU's decision...lol He's got a Harvard Law Degree, helloooo.

    Not only that, but the measure of a man is the fight that he makes, and the grit that he daily shows

    The way he stands upon his feet and takes life's numerous bumps and blows

    A coward can smile when there is nothing to fear and nothing his progress bars

    But it takes a man to stand and cheer when the other fellow stars

    It isn't the victory afterall, but the fight that a brother makes,

    A man when driven against the wall still stands erect and takes,

    The blows of fate with his head held high bleeding, bruised, and pale,

    Is the man who will win, and fate defied, for he isn't afraid to Fail!

    (Test of a Man, author UNKNOWN)

    April 10, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. Joanna

    Not that he need a degree from ASU! He already has one from Harvard university, But what a kind of joke is this??? The man is president of the USA and extremely educated, yet not worthy of a pitiful degree from an average university? Please.

    April 10, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  17. Megan

    how embarrassing for any ASU alumni. They seem petty, vindicitve and pretty dumb actually. The man has degrees from Columbia and Harvard and they think they are too good for him? Unbelievable.

    April 10, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    Bush's first commencement address? Notre Dame. They gave the moron a degree despite his only real accomplishment to that point having been his election as governor and then as POTUS. He'd failed at every single private business endeavor in which he engaged prior to that and had been a terrible student, not even getting into law school. So yeah, let the tapdancing hypocrisy continue!

    April 10, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  19. Petty Excuses to disrespect Mr. Obama

    As far as Notre Dame is concerned, Laurence O'Donnell said it best. The Catholic church is against abortion and the death penalty. Democrats usually defend the right to have an abortion ... Republicans usually defend executing people (some of whom we know from DNA have been innocent).

    There is no intellectually honest way for some Catholics to embrace George Bush as a commencement speaker but to complain about an invitation to our Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama. By their dogma, they should have problems with both.

    April 10, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. CNN Hates My Comments

    lol@ Arizona State... He's a grad from Columbia and Harvard.. why would he care!

    April 10, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. Mary Jo

    Bah, who needs a honorary degree. Let Obama's work speak for itself.

    April 10, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  22. Dan

    I guess Obama hasn't done enough keg stands or smoked enough bongs for ASU's stringent standards....

    April 10, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. Peter E

    Slow news day, eh? Why is any of this important or even relevant?

    April 10, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  24. Kim

    He hasnt done anything??? Really? Well lets see, he signed into law the equal pay for women act, he brought countries that have not spoke to us for 8 yeas to the table, and has brought the world to our side again. He shut down an illigal prison in Cuba, and has actually made the US look compitent again. Arizona is red as blood that is the ONLY reason they dont honor him. He deserves it, had mclame been president we would havegiven it to him, for doing NOTHING. I am leaving AZ for this reason, its WAY to redneck and uneducated

    April 10, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. Sharon Northern Virginia

    What a shame these schools are showing to many Americans. This is so disrespectful and ugly in so many ways. I will continue to pray for the Obama family and the evil ways of so many Americans. God will have the last say. I hope The Obama's and the white house staff make a good decision on how to handle all of this. I know if President Obama was a white man (even if one didn't like him) the schools would not have a problem with him speaking or giving the honorary degree. The American People have VOTE and he is the President of these United States...let's work together and show some PRIDE to the other countries.

    What Bull crap this is. What a country we live in.

    April 10, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
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