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Honorary Degree Rescission Scoreboard
November 21, 2012 6:41 AM   Subscribe

News today is Lance Armstrong can no longer claim an honorary doctorate from Tufts University. Other recent notable rescissions: UMass rescinded Robert Mugabe's, and University of Bedfordshire rescinded Jimmy Savile's. Nortwestern U also rescinded an offer of an honorary degree to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In the win column, two universities were pressured to rescind offers of doctorates, but decided to proceed and award degrees: Duke University to Susan Komen's Nancy Brinker, and CUNY to playwright Tony Kushner.
posted by surplus (35 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wonder if there's a way to parlay this into rescinding every real Ed.D. and MBA ever granted.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:46 AM on November 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


The sad part is that even though the honorary doctorate is rescinded, he still has honorary tenure.
posted by griphus at 6:48 AM on November 21, 2012 [14 favorites]


On the upside, I hear South Korea is going to make Lance an honorary consul, so there's that.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:49 AM on November 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Lance Armstrong, history's greatest monster...
posted by ennui.bz at 6:51 AM on November 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


That's sad. All that study they put in, and now nothing to show for it.

Honorary degrees are bullshit.
posted by Decani at 6:52 AM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


News today is Lance Armstrong can no longer claim an honorary doctorate from Tufts University.

See: backpedal
posted by hal9k at 6:52 AM on November 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


Who would want to deny Tony Kushner an honorary doctorate?

As a public school, CUNY's relationship with Zionism (or, more specifically, not pissing off sources of private endowment by granting honorary degrees to outspoken opponents of Zionism) is really, really complicated.
posted by griphus at 6:58 AM on November 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


My university made the weird (to me) choice of awarding honorary degrees, but pretty much restricting them to actual scholars. The resulting being that people with actual degrees were awarded honorary degrees, sort of a "Congratulations, you've been a world renowned geologist for 20 years, have an extra, meaningless degree!"

I get wanting to honor people for being distinguished scholars, but doing it with honorary degrees seems silly.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:02 AM on November 21, 2012


Well I'm glad my plan to doctorate didn't rely on waiting for an honorary degree to be handed to me by some hoity-toity taker-backer institution.

Instead, I'm going to get my doctorate from a prestigious, non-accredited university I discovered via email.

Best part is, I can use things I already know -- no reading required!
posted by mazola at 7:07 AM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there an expectation that the recipient of an honorary degree endows the university?
posted by griphus at 7:08 AM on November 21, 2012


This sort of bullshit is exactly why I turn down all honorary degree offers.
posted by orme at 7:09 AM on November 21, 2012 [13 favorites]


Does this mean I should go ahead and cancel the hemicorporectomy I've scheduled with Dr. Armstrong next week? After all they can take away his title but they can't exactly take away his brain. Unless he has a hemispherectomy, I suppose.
posted by item at 7:11 AM on November 21, 2012


maybe I should schedule a hemispherectomy with him as a sign of unity.
posted by item at 7:12 AM on November 21, 2012


As a public school, CUNY's relationship with Zionism (or, more specifically, not pissing off sources of private endowment by granting honorary degrees to outspoken opponents of Zionism) is really, really complicated.

The issue in this particular case is Jeff Weisenfeld, who is, in both my personal and professional opinion, and with many years of acquaintance, a domineering and self-important jackass.
posted by tiny plastic sockpuppet at 7:15 AM on November 21, 2012


This sets a dangerous precedent. I'm no Lance fan, but in the big picture the guy is being vilified only in that he was set to such a high standard. He lied and stole, sure...but to a cycling community (I say this as a cycling fan) that is morally and ethically bankrupt. That, and the foundation stands on its own.

Are they going to rescind the degrees of everyone who's lied or cheated or stolen in their personal or professional lives? That'll be a long list. Taking away what was the poor decision in the first place looks like a cheap way for your administration to get some headline time. Bad show all around.

This Lance pile-on has got to stop. With this I think it's officially jumped the shark.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:16 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


First off - the post about Rev. Wright is almost five years old. Secondly - it's bullshit and I get angry every time I'm reminded of that entire puffed up, racist pile of right-wing mud-slinging that led to the fabricated "controversy" surrounding his preaching. The only controversy was that a black preacher spoke aloud what everyone already knew was true. White, right-wing fundamentalists blamed the terror attacks of 9/11 on everything from gay-rights parades to wicca and everyone sort of sighed and laughed. Dr. Wright says that this is precisely the sort of thing that happens to over-militarized, war-like nations - it's all right there in the Bible - and he's labelled a "radical". Unreal.

Incidentally, I was listening to his successor speak recently - Otis Moss III - and he mentioned how the story broke on his very first day on the job. Wright had been planning on retiring long before this all went down. I can't even imagine what it must have been like, unpacking your boxes in your new office at this amazing Chicago church - and the phone rings and all hell breaks loose. It's a testament to Moss' qualities as a leader that Trinity is still thriving after being specifically targeted by the right-wing hate machine.

Wright is a pillar of American preaching and he already has a real doctorate so Northwestern can take a long walk.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:18 AM on November 21, 2012 [16 favorites]


My university made the weird (to me) choice of awarding honorary degrees, but pretty much restricting them to actual scholars. The resulting being that people with actual degrees were awarded honorary degrees, sort of a "Congratulations, you've been a world renowned geologist for 20 years, have an extra, meaningless degree!"

My undergraduate-only institution awards honorary doctorate degrees. Just for an extra dose of meaninglessness.
posted by muddgirl at 7:25 AM on November 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Not the main point of your post, but couldn't you have found a source for the Armstrong piece other than The Weekly Standard? They're pretty icky people.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:37 AM on November 21, 2012


I always thought honorary degrees were done more as a PR move for the university than anything. Like: "We'll never get Lance Armstrong to come visit Tufts and give a nice speech... Unless! We give him an honorary degree... That's the ticket."

In which case, I'm not sure Lance gives much of a shit. And this just sounds like another PR move from Tufts.
posted by chasing at 7:59 AM on November 21, 2012


This Lance pile-on has got to stop. With this I think it's officially jumped the shark.

I don't know - the Onion's yellow Cheat To Win Bracelet is pretty cool.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:01 AM on November 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd like to get a dishonorary degree.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:06 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


The university I went to does not award honorary degrees as a general rule.* Nor do they pay commencement speakers a speaker's fee. Funnily enough, they never have 'glamorous' commencement speakers. One year, they invited Danny Glover solely on the grounds that he lived in the area, so they wouldn't have to buy a plane ticket, and appeared to have no political aspirations (going to the commencement entails/entailed crossing a picket line). It turned out he has political aspirations, so that idea failed. Bill Clinton spoke at my brother's commencement and the contrast made it seems like even more of a sham than one already knew it to be.

*The UC system does have a mechanism for awarding honorary degrees, apparently. You need approval of 3/4 of the Regents, but there's been a moratorium since the 1980s. They seem to have made an exception and awarded honorary degrees to students who never finished because they were interned during the Second World War.
posted by hoyland at 8:12 AM on November 21, 2012


I'd like to get a dishonorary degree.

You can ask this guy for tips.
posted by griphus at 8:17 AM on November 21, 2012


Lance Armstrong can no longer claim an honorary doctorate from Tufts University.

But he should now qualify for one from MIT and Cambridge.

I used to think Armstrong was just a guy who rode a bicycle, I had no idea that he was a genius mastermind on a par with the entire nation of East Germany. If anyone deserves the honor be being called "Doctor" it's Lance Armstrong.
posted by three blind mice at 8:22 AM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of the not entirely relevant but great lyrics to Work for Peace by Gil Scott-Heron:

They took the honor from the honorary
They took the dignity from the dignitaries
They took the secrets from the secretaries
But they left the 'bitch' in 'obituary'

posted by iotic at 8:40 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


But he should now qualify for one from MIT and Cambridge.

MIT has never awarded an honorary degree.
posted by Mapes at 9:01 AM on November 21, 2012


News today is Lance Armstrong can no longer claim an honorary doctorate from Tufts University.

See: backpedal


Also see: sit-and-spin
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:45 AM on November 21, 2012


Is there an expectation that the recipient of an honorary degree endows the university?

Probably. I think they are mostly there to make the commencement slightly more of a star-studded event, though.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:22 AM on November 21, 2012


Is there an expectation that the recipient of an honorary degree endows the university?

Yes. After working in university fundraising and becoming sufficiently cynical about it, I'm not sure there's much a university does that isn't donor cultivation of some sort.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:37 AM on November 21, 2012


At least he still has all those Tour de France medals.
posted by snofoam at 10:39 AM on November 21, 2012


LA has always seemed like a colossal asshole, to me.
posted by yoga at 12:14 PM on November 21, 2012


I doubt this will do more than tickle him. Armstrong is still ahead; he fought cancer, came back and won a bunch of cycle races (doping, but then that was the culture in the sport). He's an ass because he lied about it and did damage to the Livestrong foundation.

But he beat cancer, founded an organization that does a lot of good and is still breathing; dude is ahead.
posted by arcticseal at 12:53 PM on November 21, 2012


What sort of idiot school do you have to be to give Robert Mugabe an honorary degree?
posted by clvrmnky at 6:26 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


What sort of idiot school do you have to be to give Robert Mugabe an honorary degree?

"WHINSEC is proud to announce it will be conferring its Global Role Model award on Robert Mugabe."
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:33 PM on November 21, 2012


Mugabe has been in power in Zimbabwe for a long time - pretty much since the country's independence. Before that he was a political prisoner for ten years. Many saw him as a good thing - not unlike Nelson Mandela. It's only in recent years that the tide of western opinion has shifted strongly against him.
posted by iotic at 10:56 AM on November 23, 2012


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