Saturday, March 24, 2007

News: Honorary degrees and other claptrap

The University of Florida Faculty Senate voted recently against giving former Florida governor Jeb Bush an honorary degree. I guess I'm in a decent position to comment about this, being a UF alum and current UF law student, so I'll try my best.

First of all, honorary degrees aren't much of an honor. Sure, they're nice and all, but the fact is, no one except the third-grader doing a biographical report on you will remember that you received a Ph.D. from Wassamotta U. Compared to the huzzahs you receive when you win the Nobel Prize or the Fields Medal, an honorary degree just isn't very meaningful.

Second, UF doesn't gain much from giving out honorary degrees. Jeb Bush went to UT, a fairly prestigious and large university, and will probably always be remembered as a UT grad. UF isn't getting any more prestige other than a press release and perhaps a smiling Jeb Bush at a commencement ceremony. Even worse, there's a famous governor who attended UF already - no need to hand out degrees to every Florida chief executive.

Jeb Bush, by most accounts, was a popular and effective governor. If Florida didn't have term limits, he would have easily won again. Every time I look at the current White House, I think everyone would have been better off with Jeb at the helm.


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