Washington Bureau

02.20.14

Obama's Art History Apology

Barack Obama wrote a handwritten apology this week after making a joke about majoring in art history.

Barack Obama may not have gone on an apology tour to France and Egypt, but could the President be taking one to Vassar and Oberlin?

After making a jest about the relative value of an art history degree in a January 30 speech in Wisconsin, Obama sent a handwritten apology to an art history professor in Austin, Texas this week. The President pointed out that "folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree." Although Obama quickly backtracked, saying "now, nothing wrong with an art history degree -- I love art history," he still got plenty of grief for his remarks. However, even the apology didn't please everyone as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) took to Twitter to call it "pathetic."

The apology letter, first reported by the website Hyperallergic, reads:

Ann —

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.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama