President Obama sends hand-written apology to professor after mocking history of art degrees
Wednesday 19 February 2014
President Obama has apologised for insulting art history students and teachers after he made a "glib" remark discouraging students from taking art history.
Obama made the remarks during an event at a General Electrics plant in Wisconsin late last month, while trying to persuade young people to pursue more practical skills.
The offending comment suggested that “folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree”.
He followed up by stressing that he found “nothing wrong with an art history degree. I love art history. I don’t want to get a bunch of emails from everybody.”
However, Professor Ann Collins Johns, who teaches Art History at the University of Texas, Austin, was left unimpressed by his remarks and unconvinced by his backtracking.
She sent a letter criticizing the president’s words to the White House website - so he surprised her by sending her a hand-written response.
In the apology letter, Obama apologized for his "off-the-cuff" remarks and explained that he was "making a point about the jobs market, not the value of art history" and that in fact the subject was one of his favourites in high school.
He reiterated that he “was trying to encourage young people who might not be predisposed to a four-year college experience to be open to technical training that can lead them to an honorable career”.
When contacted via her Facebook page, Johns admitted she had been surprised by the personal response.
She said that wanted to make it clear that she loved Obama and that she felt "totally guilty about wasting his time’.
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