President Barack Obama offered a mea culpa to an art professor last week after he said that “folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.”
Speaking at a January event on manufacturing and the economy in Wisconsin, Obama quickly qualified his remark by noting that “there’s nothing wrong with history. I love art history.”
Professor Ann Collins Johns at the University of Texas at Austin took the opportunity to remind the President of art history’s virtues via the White House website.
“I emphasized that we challenge 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),” she told art blog Hyperallergic.
Obama wrote back emphasizing that the didn’t mean to offend the discipline, which he called “one of my favorite subjects in high school.”
Full text of the letter below:
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.