Northwestern University Rescinds Offer of an Honorary Degree to Jeremiah Wright

Northwestern University had planned to award an honorary Doctorate of Sacred Theology to Jeremiah Wright at this year’s commencement ceremonies. Wright is the recently retired pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side of Chicago, where Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has been a member for the past 20 years. Wright has been the center of a continuing controversy concerning remarks that many people have deemed racist or unpatriotic.

In a letter to Wright, Northwestern University President Henry Bienen did not criticize the pastor’s remarks or make any judgment as to what has been said. Bienen simply wrote, “The celebratory character of Northwestern’s commencement would be affected by our conferring of this honorary degree.”

In an interview with a Texas newspaper, Wright said he had been told by Bienen that “he wasn’t patriotic enough,” a charge the Northwestern University president denies.

It is believed that this is the first time in the university’s history that an honorary degree has been rescinded. Wright holds honorary degrees from eight colleges and universities.