During President Obama’s “State of the Union” address he offended many art history students by suggesting skilled manufacturing jobs were better, saying, “I promise you, folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.” Economically speaking, the President isn’t wrong. Many felt slighted by his comments and felt as though the President didn’t value the arts at all.
A University of Texas professor and art historian, Anna Collin Johns, wrote a letter to the President expressing her frustrations. She said of the email, “I am relatively sure that my email was not so much one of outrage at Obama’s statement, but rather a ‘look what we do well’ statement. I emphasized that as art historians, we challenge our students to think, read, and write critically. I also stressed how inclusive our discipline is these days (even though my own specialty is medieval and Renaissance Italy). So I’d like to see this whole series of events in a very positive light.”
What she didn’t expect was a handwritten note from President Obama himself. The letter read:
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.
[Via. Huffington Post]