April 27th, 2009
02:43 PM ET
5 years ago

Harvard professor backs out of honor, ceremony over Obama

A Harvard Law School professor has decided not to participate in Notre Dame's graduation ceremony because President Obama will be speaking at the event.
A Harvard Law School professor has decided not to participate in Notre Dame's graduation ceremony because President Obama will be speaking at the event.

(CNN) – Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon is turning down an award from the University of Notre Dame because she disagrees with the Catholic institution's decision to invite President Obama to deliver this year's commencement address.

The conservative, pro-life academic explained her decision not to attend the commencement ceremony and not to accept the Laetare Medal from the university in a letter to Notre Dame's president.

"I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree," Glendon wrote in the letter. She also said that she considered the decision to give Obama an honorary degree a violation of a request from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that Catholic institutions not honor individuals who act in defiance of the church's fundamental principles or give awards or platforms that suggest support for the actions of such individuals. Glendon, who described herself as a "longtime consultant" for the group of bishops, said the group's directive was "reasonable."

Glendon also said in the letter that she was concerned by the university's use of her planned involvement in the graduation ceremony as a way to balance Obama's appearance.

A commencement "is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame's decision . . . to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church's position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice," Glendon told Notre Dame's president.

After pointing out that Notre Dame's decision appeared to be setting an example that other Catholic institutions were following, the Harvard professor said it was "with great sadness" that she had decided she could not participate in the graduation ceremony nor accept the medal from the university.

Obama is also set to deliver the commencement address at Arizona State University and the U.S. Naval Academy.


Filed under: Abortion • President Obama
soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. Ken Craycraft

    Mary Ann Glendon is not "conservative." Rather, unlike the University of Notre Dame, she is Catholic.

    April 27, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. Mary Ann still wants the professor,Ginger

    This has truely gotten silly. President Obama is not going to give a speech about or promote freedom of choice for women in reproductive health. This professor should quit her job at Notre Dame because I'm sure that the University has people on staff who are prochoice. If she is such a purist, she should not even want to rub shoulders with people who are pro choice. Otherwise, she is a hypocrit and a political opportunist.

    April 27, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. Dew5050

    Dear Professor,

    Where were you when the priests you are representing were molesting young boys? Does your action not show your complete hipocrisy? Give me a break, pls!

    CNN, I know you wont publish this, but its okay! You can do whatever you want.

    April 27, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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