PHOENIX, ARIZONA: An Arizona college criticized for refusing to award an honorary degree to President Barack Obama has said it would name a
scholarship program after him instead.
Arizona State University
was widely ridiculed last week after officials said it would not give Obama an honorary degree when he addresses students at a graduation ceremony next month, citing an insufficient “body of work”.
However ASU President Michael Crow attempted to deflect the criticism in a statement released at the weekend which said an existing scholarship would be named after Obama.
“It has always been our intention to recognize and honour President Obama’s accomplishments during his visit,” Crow said.
“I apologize for the confusion surrounding our invitation to President Obama to address ASU students at commencement.”
The university’s refusal to honour America’s first black president with a degree triggered an outcry last week, with the school’s newspaper begging officials to reconsider.
“It’s an odd gap that besmirches the image of an excellent institution,” the East Valley Tribune said.
Such degrees are traditionally awarded by US universities to speakers invited to address graduates- past recipients of honorary degrees from ASU include major donors, a movie director, a poet, a supermarket magnate, and the former head of the Navajo Nation who was impeached in disgrace.
The scholarship program, which aids students with deep financial needs, will be renamed the President Barack Obama Scholars, the university said.
Crow had previously told a local newspaper that the university would not reverse its position, saying the college had a policy of not giving honorary degrees to sitting politicians.