Friday, September 14, 2007

The Honorables

In Wikipedia Talk: Jacques Barzun, Mr. John Link asked where to find Mr. Barzun’s opinion about awarding academic degrees to artists. One place to look is The American University, 1968, 236–238.

There is also this from Trim the College!:

What of the student whose interest lies in the direction of film and theatre, art and music, photography and television, and who wants a “major” in one of them to “qualify” for a job in these industries the day after graduation? Those activities are pre-professional. Let there be a School of Applied Arts on campus or at the nearby university, similar to the Schools of Business and of Journalism. The applied arts are not college work; the very scheduling of long hours of practice makes for conflict with the other studies.

And here is a letter about honorary degrees:


Published: June 17, 1984, The New York Times

To the Editor:

The subject of honorary degrees is not of great importance, but having been incompletely quoted about it in a May 27 news article, I should like to dispel the impression that I would reserve such degrees for academic scholars.

On the contrary: university people have earned their doctorates, and honorary ones are as redundant for them as they are inappropriate for public figures.

The academic world should confer honorary degrees on people outside its walls who have done comparable work. All degrees would thus have been earned, in course or through independent study.

In other words, I should like to see the university exercise a judgment it alone can pass on work it knows something about, instead of merely ratifying, with rather comic solemnity, public acclaim already bestowed on artists, businessmen and political leaders.

JACQUES BARZUN, New York, June 7, 1984