No degree for Obama, Arizona State University's President Michael Crow decided after a couple of days' second-guessing in the face of intense criticism.
Instead, an hours-long meeting between university officials on Friday apparently has led to an unexpected "honor:" A scholarship will be named after the country's first Black president. Whoo-hoo.
We're not yet ready to concede failure on the prediction made in our previous post, except for the date -- there's too much time left in the game. It's possible that this consolation honor may generate even more criticism than the original decision to not give Obama a degree when he gives a commencement speech on May 13. The way we see it, he still might get that degree.
Here's the ASU news release with Michael Crow's statements:
ASU to name and expand most important scholarship program to honor President Obama
University apologizes for honorary degree confusion
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State University invited President Barack Obama to speak at its graduation ceremony out of the greatest respect for him as an individual and world leader.
"I apologize for the confusion surrounding our invitation to President Obama to address ASU students at commencement," said ASU President Michael M. Crow. "The entire ASU community has been electrified with excitement since we learned of his participation in our commencement ceremony. We hope that the recent discussion of honorary degrees will not detract from the honor and thrill that ASU -- and indeed all of Arizona -- is experiencing in anticipation of his visit. I am honored, as are our faculty, staff and students, that President Obama will give his first commencement speech as president of the United States at ASU."
In recognition of President Obama's commitment to educational access and to an entire career dedicated to public service, ASU is naming and expanding its most important scholarship program in his honor. Going forward, this program will be called the President Barack Obama Scholars and will offer thousands of students with the greatest financial need the opportunity to go to college.
"It has always been our intention to recognize and honor President Obama's accomplishments during his visit," said Crow, "but we had not yet determined the best or most appropriate way to do so. Although the focus and attention of the media and others has been on an honorary degree, we never felt that was the only -- or even the best -- means of honoring his tremendous service to our country. Naming this scholarship program after President Obama that will affect the lives of thousands of students is an honor befitting, not only the president's exceptional achievements, but also his values as an individual. The President Barack Obama Scholars program will be a legacy that will endure and inspire others for generations to come."
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