Jeb Bush denied one honor, wins another

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of President Bush, gestures at an ad hoc press conference during a visit to a tsunami relief center in Phuket, Thailand, on Jan. 4, 2005. Vincent Yu / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Former Gov. Jeb Bush was snubbed for an honorary degree at the University of Florida — but he can still call himself an honorary alumnus.

The university’s Alumni Association’s Board of Directors passed a resolution Saturday to make Bush an honorary alumnus. The move came on the heels of a 38-28 Faculty Senate vote on Thursday to deny Bush an honorary degree.

The main difference between the awards is that the degree is given by the university and the alumni association decides who receives honorary alumni status, said Steve Orlando, a University of Florida spokesman. The association extends the honor to a handful of people each year.

“They might be in two different categories, but from the alumni perspective, we highly respect those that have been given or granted the status of honorary alumnus,” said Leonard Spearman, president of the University of Florida Alumni Association.

In deciding not to give Bush an honorary degree, some faculty members cited concerns about Bush’s educational record in respect to the university. Some said his approval of three new medical schools has diluted resources. He also has been criticized for his “One Florida” proposal, an initiative that ended race-based admissions programs at state universities.

But Spearman said the association selected Bush because he supported research at the University of Florida, and because of his efforts to provide funding for more faculty and create a statewide scholarship program. He said the association’s selection had nothing to do with the faculty’s vote.

“What we did was in our own rights, not in our reaction to the Senate,” he said.

An e-mail sent to Bush on Saturday seeking comment was not immediately returned.