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Northwestern University Withdraws Jeremiah Wright’s Honorary Degree

May 6, 2008

This is delicious news! It went down great with my morning coffee. Oh yeah!

Northwestern withdraws Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s graduation invite, honorary degree offer Graduation invite off table at Northwestern

(Chicago Tribune)
Northwestern University President Henry Bienen has rescinded the university’s offer to bestow an honorary doctorate of sacred theology on Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., whose fiery comments on race and America have caused trouble for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

In a letter to Wright, the senator’s longtime pastor, Bienen wrote in March that he decided to withdraw the degree because the controversy about Wright could disrupt graduation ceremonies.

In light of the controversy surrounding statements made by you that have recently been publicized, the celebratory character of Northwestern’s commencement would be affected by our conferring of this honorary degree,” Bienen wrote.

It appears to be the first time Northwestern has rescinded an honorary degree offer, though the school keeps no such records, spokesman Alan Cubbage said. Withdrawing such an offer would be rare for any university. Wright was not scheduled to speak at the June ceremony, and Cubbage declined to name the other intended honorary degree recipients.

This week, Wright was quoted in a Texas newspaper as saying the offer was rescinded because Bienen told him he “wasn’t patriotic enough. (sour grapes)” Northwestern denied that portrayal in a statement Thursday, saying Bienen “never characterized Dr. Wright’s views or made a judgment about them.”

Wright has eight honorary degrees from other colleges and universities, according to Trinity’s Web site. He received an honorary degree from Colgate University in 1998 and one from Valparaiso University in 2002, university officials said.

The Valparaiso commencement program cited Wright’s accomplishments in expanding Trinity’s membership and his church’s work on behalf of senior citizens and of low-income and unemployed families needing child care.

Wright has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Howard University, another master’s degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a doctorate from United Theological Seminary.

“I believe that there is a systematic effort to discredit (expose the truth) Dr. Wright and now a major educational institution is caving into that,” said Rev. Linda Thomas, a professor at the Lutheran School of Theology and a member of Wright’s congregation at Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s South Side. “It is irresponsible.” (And Wright isn’t? [roll eyes])

According to Northwestern policy, any person can nominate someone for an honorary degree and a faculty committee vets the suggestions. The degrees go to people who have distinguished themselves in their fields or who have served the community, and there should be care that the degree “not be politically motivated or appear to be so,” according to the university’s Web site.[…]

[…]Controversial talk show host Jerry Springer, who is scheduled to address students graduating from the law school, is not slated to get an honorary degree.

The controversy surrounding Wright erupted about six weeks ago when media began airing parts of his sermons. Obama distanced himself from Wright’s rhetoric but did not disavow the clergyman until Tuesday, when he called Wright’s latest comments “outrageous” and “appalling.”

At an appearance Monday at the National Press Club, Wright asserted that the U.S. government created the AIDS epidemic to wipe out racial minorities and praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as one of the most important voices of the current century.

Northwestern senior Jonathan Webber, who expects to graduate in June, said he supports Northwestern’s decision to rescind the honorary degree.

“Him being there would have shifted the focus away from the celebration of graduation of Northwestern seniors to the controversy and the chaos that surrounds him,” Webber said. “That is not the point of graduation. It is better to keep the focus on what it should be and not even let politics into the graduation scene.”

LOL! That is to much. Jerry Springer is a scheduled speaker and good enough for Northwestern but Wright isn’t and his honorary degree has been ripped from his hands. That is hilarious!

This has made my day.

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