Obama Backpedals On Comment About Purpose, Validity Of Art History Degree

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File photo of President Barack Obama. (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of President Barack Obama. (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - President Barack Obama has apologized after comments regarding the usefulness of art history degrees made waves within the art history community.

CBS News is reporting that Obama thought twice about a remark he made while talking about job skills training at an event in Waukesha, Wis. that was held last month.

“[F]olks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree,” he was quoted as saying.

In anticipation of backlash, Obama said at the time that there is “nothing wrong with an art history degree” and that he “love[s] art history.”

He continued, “So I don’t want to get a bunch of emails from everybody. I’m just saying you can make a really good living and have a great career without getting a four-year college education as long as you get the skills and the training that you need.”

Despite his attempts to stave off criticism, art history professor Ann Collins Johns of the University of Texas urged the President to “look at what we do well” in an e-mail to him on the matter.

She added while talking to the blog Hyperallergenic, “I emphasized that we challenge students to think, read, and write critically.”

Ina surprise turn of events, Obama personally replied to her letter, CBS News learned.

“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,” he was quoted as saying. “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.”

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