Notre Dame University’s Egregious Error

When a university invites a prominent personality to deliver a commencement address and accept an honorary degree, a statement is being made to graduates, students, faculty, parents, alumni and donors: “This is someone whose work is worth emulating.” The invitation, in other words, is not to a debate, or to the opening of some sort of ongoing conversation. The invitation and the award of an honorary degree are a university’s stamp of approval on someone’s life and accomplishment. Which is precisely why the University of Notre Dame, which claims to be America’s premier Catholic institution of higher learning, made an egregious error in inviting President Barack Obama to address its May commencement and accept an honorary doctorate of laws degree. Since Inauguration Day, Obama has made several judgment calls that render Notre Dame’s invitation little short of incomprehensible.