ASU: Obama Undeserving of Honorary Degree

Thursday, April 09, 2009 at 6:23 pm

This is rather shocking, particularly for me, as a graduate of the Arizona public university system. The Huffington Post’s Dawn Teo reports that, despite being granted the honor of having the president of the United States give its commencement address, Arizona State University has decided not to award President Obama an honorary degree, as is the tradition for graduation day speakers.

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.

I don’t think it really needs to be said, as Teo writes, that getting elected president of the United States — and the first African-American president, at that — seems like quite a substantial achievement.

Really, ASU? Is this really your best P.R. move?

After all, as the Phoenix-area’s East Valley Tribune editorialized:

Barry Goldwater received his honorary degree in May 1961, three years before his Republican nomination for president and only eight years into his three decades as a U.S. senator. Sandra Day O’Connor was similarly recognized just three years in her 25 years on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Do you forget that in 2005, you were Playboy’s No. 1 party school in the country? Granted, you’ve dropped to No. 17 in 2008, according to the Princeton Review — but does that mean you are now above giving an honorary degree to the president?

And I don’t know if you remember, but Arizona had a bit of an image problem just two decades ago, for refusing to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. After that whole kerfuffle, is this the message The Grand Canyon State wishes to send to the rest of the country — that Obama’s election is an achievement unworthy of recognition?

Update: Sam Stein does some digging and finds that Obama might be a better candidate for an honorary degree if he donated $50 million to ASU.

2nd Update: Stein has more. An ASU official suggests the university might give Obama an honorary degree after he leaves office.

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James Carville
Comment posted April 9, 2009 @ 4:24 pm

Oh… It… We… have no response. That was perfect.

G Franco
Comment posted April 9, 2009 @ 4:26 pm

As a graduate of the Arizona Public University System, you must realize that the State or the People within the State do not dictate who or who doesn't get an Honorary Degree from one of the three public universities.

Hate to be a bureaucrat about it, but processes must be followed. What kind of Honor is it when any shmo who gives a speech at commencement gets an “honorary degree”? 'Great speech!, here's a degree commemorating the event.' To say that by giving an honorary degree to make amends for the voting history of the people of the state, is plain ignorant and cheapens the process and title even more.

Comment posted April 9, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

Michael Crow is the President of Arizona State University. His email address is and office telephone is (480)965-8972. Need I say more?

Posts about Huffington Post as of April 9, 2009 » The Daily Parr
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[...] as “citizen journalists.” “The Huffington Post wants to have citizen journalists at as many ASU: Obama Undeserving of Honorary Degree – 04/09/2009 This is rather shocking, particularly for me, as a graduate [...]

Comment posted April 9, 2009 @ 9:54 pm

WTF?! If Barry freaking Goldwater got an honorary degree, then Barack Obama, with a hundred times the achievements of Goldwater, sure as hell should get one too.

Comment posted April 9, 2009 @ 10:28 pm

Arizona State University must be very 'special'. What kind of idiot thinks a man is good enough to give their commencment speech, but not an honorary degree. If Obama isn't worthy of a degree, then he shouldn't even be speaking to the graduates, now should he?

I hope he withdraws.

Comment posted April 9, 2009 @ 10:46 pm

How in the world could these buffoons at ASU manage to mangle this so badly? Just how stupid can they possbily be? I live in Phoneix, and as I recall, theses “educators” weren't the least bit concerned about the “reputation” of their school when it hit the top list of party schools in the nation for the last 30 years. Their admission standards are far below those of Eastern colleges, and it shows.

They are known as the last stop for school for those who can't get in anywhere else, and as long as Mommy & Daddy have the $$, you're in. Kind of like going to Med school in the Caribbean. This is unbelievable. They gave an honorary degree to Erma Bombeck (bless her soul) but not to Obama? Guess he hadn't written enough before he became President.

Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 3:12 am

smart move they ever made, them Libertarians know what Barry is all about big Government socialism.

Plain and simple.

so, you going to pull the race card? It figures.


Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 4:30 am

Seems that the best Delong could come up with in his quest to continue feeding the vanity of our adolescent narcissist President is that Obama is black. Which only serves to underscore the lack of intellectual achievement on the part of Obama, and the rightness of ASU's decision.

Matthew DeLong
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 5:35 am

Hmmm….let's see. Editor of Harvard Law Review, Law professor at a top university, best-selling author, senator and now president. Yeah, that's a paltry list of achievements, none of them at all intellectual.

Matthew DeLong
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 5:41 am

Not playing the race card, but given Arizona's spotty record on racial sensitivity in recent history, from a PR perspective, it seems like a no-brainer that ASU would take the opportunity to repudiate the past by conferring an honorary degree on someone who, by any reasonable measure, has achieved quite a lot in his lifetime — including becoming the first African-American president.

Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 6:44 am

If Obama isn't worthy of a degree, then maybe he's not qualified to speak to the graduates? A ASU is suppose to be a place of “higher learning,” not.

Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 6:53 am

I think I received an honorary degree from ASU last Tuesday. Yeah, it came in with my other coupons from Macy's, Vitamin Shoppe and Wal-Mart. I was thinking about keeping the degree, but I had way to many papers in my house, so I just put it out with the rest of my recyclables.

Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 7:04 am

Whoa.. just for the record, make that “offshore med schools” in the Caribbean. The teachning hospital at the University of the West Indies is definitely not in that category

Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 7:18 am

Interesting someone complaining about “The Race Card” has a monkey as their icon photo?

Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 7:20 am

The real question is whether Arizona State deserves a commencement address delivered by the President of the United States, not whether Obama deserves a meaningless degree from Arizona State. Clearly, they don't have an ounce of class.

Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 7:37 am

I am an ASU alumni; this is embarrassing. I'll be contacting the Alumni Association to request this decision be reversed.

John Resler
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 8:38 am

It is difficult to be supportive of a President that received a pass on using drugs. At the age he claimed to have used them, I was an aircraft commander in the military flying missions in hostile territory, sometimes with many people and governmental organizations relying on me to remain responsible (read not stoned). As I view Mr. Obama's role as a community organizer, a state senator, etc., I see no reason for praise in this or any claim to experience he makes, other than being able to hoodwink naif's such as you.

ASU's party school ranking by such an august body as Playboy is definitely reason to deligitimize an otherwise cogent point regarding Mr. Obama. He had no experience in any position of significance prior to the election and his naivete' is dangerous to our security. It is inane rants such as yours that invalidate your arguments to conservatives.

- ASU86Grad

asu former applicant
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 9:05 am

I don't believe he receive a free pass on using drugs. I believe he was allowed to grow…to pursue the American dream, thanks partly to sacrifices people like you have made. There's plenty of reason to be proud of for all of us in Obama's accomplishments. I believe the dignity and compassion he displays is something we haven't seen fro a leader in along, long time.

You know he wouldn't be supported if he STILL used drugs.

You know plenty of presidential decisions were made while under the influence of oneo fo the worst drugs…alcohol…

asu former applicant
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 9:23 am

just noticed you are a grad from asu.
they taught you well.
you are better than other races. (how'd i know you were white? you sound it.)

Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 9:43 am

You know how easy it is to get into ASU? Well, let's see in the 1980's basically anyone could get in. Especially if you offered the Admission team a joint. ASU is a third rate school, with no top colleges within that University. However, the President can come here and give the commencement at the UW in Seattle where our computer engineering is one of the top three in the nation, where our medical school is one of the top 5 in the nation, Law School top tier, History Department top 5 in the nation…. etc and so on. In that ASU does not recognize accomplishment is no surprise to the rest of us who advise our children to pick a real college and eliminated colleges in Arizona.

Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 9:51 am

You are hilarious! funny stuff TMoney!

Not-so-random thought, 10 April 2009 « J’s Blog
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[...] Post from 10 April 2009; additional outrage available here, from The Washington Independent, 09 April [...]

Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

There goes your football,basketball and any other athletic programs african americans may participate in, so you racist bastards could raise money to support your alumni. Boyyyy….I tell you…racism sure makes you ignorant as hell….lol….& inferior……idiot….

Paul Cechovic
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

ASU – Assholes Supervise University – nuf said

Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

ASU is refusing to give an honorary degree to the President Obama who was educated at Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard University, where he was Editor of the Harvard Law Review, because he hasn't demonstrated an achievement of eminence? Such an inane position.

Chucky Sly
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OBAMA has an accomplishment record that trumps the entire list of predecessors. So the VICE minister of education of communist China deserves one and the president does not? Just curious, when was the last time ASU had a commencement speaker that was NOT bestowed an honorary degree? ASU has politicized what WAS a fairly decent honor and made matters worse by publicizing it like they were just so proud of themselves.
Ironic that in denying our president of an “honorary” degree, ASU has divested itself of any honor at all.

Corliss Holly
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

Boycott ASU. This is completely racially motivated. Nothing else.

Corliss Holly
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 3:04 pm

You're kidding right?!

Corliss Holly
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

Apparently not, you pulled it first redneck.

Corliss Holly
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 3:07 pm

Isn't this John McCain's state? Figures.

Alfred Hussein Neuman
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

As American's first Arab-black president, confessed drug user and son a muslim, I don't understand why ASU would not give him an honorary degree.

Alfred Hussein Neuman
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

You are so racist to suggest he is white. Has America come to the point where disagreeing with any one of color is evidence of being racist? I thought dissent was the most sincere form of Patriotism. Does that only apply to democrats?

Obama should be given an honorary degree because he is American's first Arab-black president, first confessed drug user president and first son a muslim president.

Alfred Hussein Neuman
Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 5:59 pm

Is this Obama's response to the North Koreans, Iran or the pirates?

Comment posted April 10, 2009 @ 6:02 pm

That is so racist to say redneck. When will you cock sucking losers stop using racist language.

Comment posted April 11, 2009 @ 11:33 pm

As of this time Mr. Obama doesn't rate to shine Mr. Goldwater's shoes.

Comment posted April 11, 2009 @ 11:36 pm

It seems that anytime someone doesn't fall in line behind the Obama movement then his supporters scream “Racist”. Mr. Obama has accomplished one thing – he was elected President. While this is a considerable accomplishment it does not erase the fact that he has no experience. His short time in the Senate was uneventful and his time as the President has shown that inexperience. He has managed to sink this country into more debt than all the other Presidents combined but he needed the help of an “out of control” Congress to achieve even that. His trip abroad endeared him to the people over there but only at the expense of bringing down the country he leads. He does seem to have some experience at bowing though.

Comment posted April 13, 2009 @ 1:29 pm


Comment posted April 13, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

Always the racial stereotypes with you right-wingers, isn't it?

Comment posted April 13, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

This is such an incredibly sad story for us students graduating from Arizona State University on May 13, 2009. While we had no part in the decision whether or not to grant President Obama an honorary degree, it has now completely overshadowed our accomplishments. Now, rather than a peaceful celebration, it has turned into a media hailstorm of personal attacks that have seemingly questioned our collective intelligence.

Is the school's rank by Playboy really relevant? Is the decision of a six person panel to withhold an honorary degree really relevant? As a member of the ASU Class of 2009, I would say that the only relevant story is that the media has ruined what should be an extremely meaningful day for the graduates who will be recognized for their hard work and achievements. You should all be ashamed of yourselves for contributing to this polarizing, degrading, and most of all insulting dialogue.

Comment posted April 14, 2009 @ 8:56 am

Delong, you bring up that ASU honored Barry Goldwater… close to 50 years ago!? Did you know back then in 1961 African Americas weren't even allowed to vote without paying a “black” tax. Why don't you try to find some relevant facts to support your rant. ASU doesn't give out Honorary Degrees like Candy… like how Notre Dame does. Plus since 2002, it has been ASU's policy not give Honorary degrees to sitting politicians due to the fact ASU is a public university.

And remember, being elected president is just a popularity contest. Let him prove himself as president first, which most of America believes he will, including myself.

Lets all be honest here. Most people are upset that Obama chose ASU and ND to speak at first rather than his own schools Columbia and Harvard.

Comment posted April 14, 2009 @ 9:33 am

I went to U of A, whose ranking is 45th in the nation.

ASU is ranked at 121.

The person you should be writing to is your esteemed President, not to the people on this blog. When my daughter attended ASU she had absolutely no control over what the university faculty did, but as a parent I certainly did. My complaints were heeded and I was listened to, so don't tell me that the rest of the country has runined your graduation.

You and your parents should be writing letters to the Board of Regents, not to the blogs.

As far as ranking by Playboy, yes it is relevant. When the school is more concerned about it's enrollment and not it's student outcomes, it is a problem.

How many of the freshman class from ASU actually graduated 4 years later?

You had better docment your college or degree program's ranking in the country before you go out job hunting. President Crow is the only one that has managed to diminish your accomplishments, not the rest of the world. I'd be writing him a thank you note for THAT one.

Independent thinker
Comment posted April 14, 2009 @ 10:40 am

Dissent is a time honored tradition in the US but clear, coherent dissent from people who have no political agenda. You complain about the racist flag being thrown, and this has some truth to it, but to scatter obvious intolerant/racist comments in your post while complaining about your right of free speech being infringed on is disingenuous. Democrats?, Arab-black?, Muslim President?. You throw racist rocks then run and hide behind the First Ammendment. Oh, and by the way a survey published in 2008 by PLoS Medicine, a journal of the Public Library of Science found that 42% of Americans ADMIITTED to trying pot and/or cocaine. Statistcally this means that it is likely that 70% have experimented including George W. Bush and Bill Cinton who both lied about it. At least Obama admits it.

Comment posted April 15, 2009 @ 4:04 am

You and your type are dinosaurs my friend. No one sees these type of comments as clever or anything of the sort. Clearly brown skin simply freaks you out. LOL It makes you say vaguely racist things and imagine that no one sees the true meaning or motivation behind it.
On what planet is the most powerful figure on earth not good enough for an honorary degree. Their sitting politician policy isnt stated anywhere and wasnt mentioned until this all came to light.


Comment posted April 15, 2009 @ 4:20 am

Wah wah wah. You sound like a little rich girl whose sweet 16 got ruined. :-( No one said you had a part in the decision (though I'm guessing you're ok with it) Yes the decision of a 6 person panel is relevant if their decision disrespects the POTUS and impacts the perception of your school. You blamed everyone except your school administrators for this. IF The Leader Of The Free World would have been treated with respect this wouldnt have happened. Now its the media's fault for pointing out the stupidity and obvious bias of the ASU staff? At no point was your or your fellow students intelligence questioned.( well maybe the party school thing and the fact that ASU was the safety school for some of my HS friends with mediocre GPA's.). You just say that to justify being mad at someone other than your school staff. They are 100% to blame for waining on you widdle puhwade :-(.

Comment posted April 15, 2009 @ 2:14 pm

took that silly state awhile to come around on the MLK birthday didn't it? i love the country side of arizona, but i think some of the people who live there have been OUT IN THE SUN TO LONG !

Comment posted April 15, 2009 @ 9:10 pm

It isn't a racial stereotype – it's just the facts!

ASU Snubs Obama « Majorityminority
Pingback posted April 16, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

[...] ASU: Obama Undeserving of Honorary Degree from Washington Independent, 4/9/09. [...]

Cort B
Comment posted May 7, 2009 @ 4:17 pm

I think it's also important to remember that Obama DID beat out Arizona's Senior Senator, John McCain in 2008 presidential election. It's possible they're still jealous of his victory….

Comment posted May 8, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

“Doesn't rate to shine Mr. Goldwater's shoes?” Shine his shoes….hmmmmmmmmmmmmm wow. That it is an interesting statement with an interesting (probably subconscious racist) ideology behind it.
And no, that isn't a fact, that is an opinion. Figurative speech is not factual, it is abstract and opinionated. As one might be able to see from other posts there are a wide range of opinions, even among facts on Obama's eminence.
What I think is even more interesting is that the posters in favor of ASU's decision, still have not explained why they do not think any of Obama's lifetime, intellectual, political achievements, nevermind being the current PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and nevermind being the FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT WITH MUSLIM DESCENT in this deeply racially stigmatized and warped country, are worthy of eminence. Please explain that to me. Compare him to Goldwater, Sandra Day O'Connor, I don't care, but explain why even just being the President (voted by the people of this country), is not an honorary achievement??

Comment posted May 8, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

I think that is important too Cort. I don't know if it is “jealousy”, but more of a political, business, financial, ASU has its hands deep in the pockets of AZ senators, kind of matter.

We have to remember that ASU is currently experiencing large budget cuts from the state, largely at the minds behind the state budget plans…drum roll please….which includes Obama contender McCain. ASU may have had to wage who they were going to diss more and or brown-nose more, Obama or McCain. From a business and political standpoint, it could look very bad on them to award Obama an honorary degree in the eyes of McCain regime and FUNDING. And at the same time, they may have pulled this move because they can just barely get away with it, yes there will be public outcry, but in the end they will stick by their excuse and save their rearends where it could hurt them the most.
I agree there could be some racism behind it, but if you look at the philosophy behind racism, you will see that racism is really an elementary, childlike syndrome affecting humans who are either uneducated to understand their own prejudices and racism and too oppressed to realize the oppression they are under. ASU PR officials, in my opinion, may not be elementary in mindset, acting on jealous and racial rampages, but instead are the top faculty members saving their asses in their jobs at ASU under President Crow, who in turn is saving his ass, in conjunction with his crucial financial relationship with the state of AZ and McCain.

That is not to say I don't think AZ is plagued with much racism…yes I do, I see and hear it everyday, it does disgust me, and it may not disappear anytime soon, unfortunately.

Comment posted May 8, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

Very logical points, Zink. Although I am still wrapped up in the conspiracy theory of mine about this, your intelligent logic has me convinced.
It is also interesting why Obama chose ASU and ND…especially ASU, re-election, making mends with AZ perhaps?

Comment posted May 13, 2009 @ 10:07 pm

Plain and SIMPLE……..Obama deserves an honorary degree probably more than anyone ever has. HELLO ARIZONA!……….What are you thinking?………….Last time I checked, we were all the same on this soon to be dying planet…. Get Real. Seriously. And YES…Obama did beat out McCain in the presidential election. I am here to say that I drove 100 miles on election day to vote for Obama.(I had been helping my daughter in Phoenix out from a Nasty Divorce.)…I live in Prescott AZ…..Thank you Mr. President for staying strong and believing in yourself, and the USA. YOU make me feel safe in my country

B. Thomas
Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

All good people of conscience and character should take this snub to heart. If a distinguished gentleman, scholar, and leader of the free world is unworthy to receive an honorary doctorate from their institution then all people, especially African-Americans should summarily withdraw any support they have heretofore accorded this institution.

Every African-American athlete should seek to compete and matriculate where the contributions of people like themselves will be lauded and not ignored. Every African-American scholar should immediately denounce this monumental slight and demand public redress for this insult. Every African-American co-ed, currently matriculating at ASU, with aspirations of developing into leaders of tomorrow should immediately recognize that for them tomorrow is today if the first African-American president of the United States cannot be looked upon as one whose “body of achievements” meet the degree of eminence they feel is appropriate for this honor they need to leave ASU and never look back.

All African-Americans and people of conscience and character should send a resounding message to ASU that this slight is not just a slight to Barack Obama the president of the United States. This slight is a way to devalue President Obama's accompllishments as an individual and to ignore the significance of all African-mericans who have overcome despite the opinion and standards of the ASU's of the world.

Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

You people whine too much. Who gives a shit that he didn't get a degree from Arizona State University? Big friggin' deal!

This country is hitting the shits, and this unqualified/socialist president is at the helm!

*Who cares if they didn't recognize MLK Day for a while? Jesus Christ, get a life you losers! Nothing else to bitch at, huh?

Comment posted May 22, 2009 @ 11:49 am

Who cares! Don't you have anything more important to write about?

Comment posted May 22, 2009 @ 11:57 am

Good point. Everyone that ever gives a commencement speech at every university in America should receive an honorary degree. That should be standard protocol, regardless of the university's desires. In fact, we should pass a bill requiring every university to give every speaker at any university function an honorary degree. That way, everyone will feel important, and no one will be discriminated against.

If Obama blew if off as not a big deal, then why can't you do the same? He called it “much ado about nothing.” So shut it.

Comment posted May 22, 2009 @ 11:59 am

“Now, before I begin, I'd like to clear the air about that little controversy everyone was talking about a few weeks back. I have to tell you, I really thought it was much ado about nothing.”

Barack Hussein Obama

Comment posted June 5, 2009 @ 10:21 am

For those of you bashing on Arizona because of this…ASU does not represent the whole state. I swear, sometimes people are so narrowminded.

Maybe they should have given him a degree, but hey, don't blame us.

I'm a student at the U of A, the rival school. We think this as just as funny and stupid as the rest of you. Keep the jokes and comments to ASU.

Comment posted June 5, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

For those of you bashing on Arizona because of this…ASU does not represent the whole state. I swear, sometimes people are so narrowminded.

Maybe they should have given him a degree, but hey, don't blame us.

I'm a student at the U of A, the rival school. We think this as just as funny and stupid as the rest of you. Keep the jokes and comments to ASU.

Comment posted July 1, 2009 @ 12:34 am

Miss Sharon Keeler please don't be a killer of your own state. I mean, don't make people talk bad about your state. If I was the president, when you'll decide to award me with the honorary degree, which I Heard you would gladly do award it to President Obama after his presidency, I would laugh and say: ” what make you think I deserve one now?'' But President Obama has more class than any celebrity in the world. He would not lower himself like that to you. See Miss Sharon, President Obama was taught well and he will not depart from what was instill in him ever. Next time, the best thing to do is to remember how you were taught as you were growing up and take your wisdom from there before making such decision. If not, try to learn from our President. He is setting a good example for all of us. The next person I can compare to the President is my father. He was a musician and he had class. Dad never raised his voice nor use profanity. I argue with my sister all the time about dad because she kept telling me that dad just farted and I would say: “No! I don't hear nor smell anything” Mom has to confirm it to me after he passed away last year. Well, knowing my father he would say: ” Don't worry about the fact that I did not get the award. True awards come from God!” I would not be surpprise if my president don't worry about it either

Comment posted August 19, 2009 @ 2:06 am

Ah, which one of his descriptions is not true? Arab-black? Confessed drug user? Son of a muslim? You like like a fascist who wants to control free-speech may calling anyone a racist who says something you don't like. And learn the definition of racist. Disagreeing with a minority, or even insulting one doesn't make one a racist.

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