Obama apologized to University of Texas art history Professor Ann Collins Johns in a handwritten note after the educator complained via the White House website about a joke the president made disparaging art history majors.
During remarks at a General Electric engine plant outside Milwaukee late last month, Obama said Americans who sought manufacturing training rather than liberal arts degrees stood to make more money.
“I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree,” Obama said. “Now, nothing wrong with an art history degree — I love art history. So I don't want to get a bunch of emails from everybody.”
In his letter, Obama apologized for the “glib remark.”
“Let me apologize for my off-the-cuff remarks. I was making a point about the jobs market, not the value of art history,” the president said. “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.
“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,” he added.
Republicans have long criticized Obama for excessively apologizing, with 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney repeatedly accusing Obama of opening his first term with an “apology tour” to Mideast nations.