Obama to Art History Majors: Sorry I Dissed Your Field

Sends professor handwritten note
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2014 8:10 AM CST
Obama to Art History Majors: Sorry I Dissed Your Field
President Barack Obama speaks Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Upper Marlboro, Md.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

At the end of January, President Obama raised the ire of art historians with a comment about their field; now he's apologizing, via a handwritten note. Speaking at a Milwaukee-area General Electric plant, Obama told the crowd: "I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree." He added, per the Hill, that there's "nothing wrong with an art history degree; I love art history. So I don't want to get a bunch of emails from everybody."

But he got at least one email, from University of Texas art history professor Ann Collins Johns. She made her views known in a letter sent via the White House website. Obama's reply, via Hyperallergic:

  • "Let me apologize for my off-the-cuff remarks. I was making a point about the jobs market, not the value of art history. As it so happens, art history was one of my favorite subjects in high school, and it has helped me take in a great deal of joy in my life that I might otherwise have missed. So please pass on my apology for the glib remark to the entire department, and understand that I was trying to encourage young people who may not be predisposed to a four year college experience to be open to technical training that can lead them to an honorable career."
Johns was pleasantly surprised, she wrote on Facebook: "What I did NOT expect is that THE MAN HIMSELF would write me an apology. So now I’m totally guilty about wasting his time." (More President Obama stories.)

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