- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 14, 2009

TEMPE, Ariz.| President Obama didn’t shy away from the “snub” by Arizona State University officials who said he didn’t deserve an honorary degree because he hadn’t accomplished enough. In a commencement speech Wednesday to a stadium full of young graduates, he said the officials were right.

“I come here not to dispute the suggestion that I haven’t yet achieved enough in my life,” Mr. Obama said in prepared remarks. “I come to embrace it, to heartily concur, to affirm that one’s title, even a title like ‘president,’ says very little about how well one’s life has been led.”

Mr. Obama used his first commencement address as president to challenge the graduating class to find new sources of energy, to improve failing schools and to never rely on past achievements. While he congratulated the graduates on earning a degree, Mr. Obama dryly told them that the next steps mattered more than a piece of paper or a tassel.

“I want to say to you today, graduates, that despite having achieved a remarkable milestone one that you and your families are rightfully proud of you, too, cannot rest on your laurels,” the president said, wearing a black gown with red embellishments. “Your body of work is yet to come.”

Guests who deliver commencement addresses typically are awarded honorary degrees as a sign of respect and appreciation. Arizona State University officials, however, did not award any honorary degrees this year.

“His body of work is yet to come. That’s why we’re not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency,” university spokeswoman Sharon Keeler said shortly after the school’s student newspaper first reported the decision.

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