Not every Harvard Law School alumnus has a class devoted to him — but then, President Barack Obama is not just any alumnus.
According to the Harvard Law School course catalog, professor Charles Ogletree will be teaching a reading group called “Understanding Obama” for one classroom credit during the 2013 spring term.
“This reading group will focus on the way in which race, religion, and politics have impacted the development of President Obama as a leader,” the Harvard Law School Course Catalog explains. “We will explore his views as a biracial child, his time as a student at Harvard Law School, the successes and failures of his political campaigns, and the way religion and his views on faith nearly derailed his campaign. Finally, time will be spent analyzing the challenges he faces as president of the United States in establishing both his domestic and global policies.”
Obama graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991. He was elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in 1990.
Ogletree was a mentor to both President Obama and Michelle Obama while they were Harvard law students.
In an interview, Ogletree explained to The Daily Caller that the reading group will deal with both the positive and negative issues surrounding Obama and his presidency.
“They’ll be reading both critical and positive issues about Obama — of what’s happened in terms of the way the race and religion have been viewed during his candidacy, his presidency, and how it affects the larger country; and some other classic reading on issues of law and justice,” Ogletree said of the curriculum.
According to Ogletree, his personal experience with the president, as Obama’s mentor, will not be a part of the reading group, though he made no bones about his admiration for Obama.
“I’m an Obama fan, I love the president — love him and his wife,” he explained. “They were wonderful people to serve as a mentor when they were here in the law school at separate times in the 1980s. There’s a lot to learn.”
He asserted that none of his personal feelings about the president will be a factor in the class and that there will be no grade, paper requirements or exam requirements.
According to Ogletree, the idea for the reading group came when Norman Gross, the author of “America’s Lawyer-Presidents: From Law Office to Oval Office,” contacted him to write an essay about President Obama.
“[The idea came] from the early request to comment on the lawyer who became president, and he was the latest one and he also was a student at the same law school I teach,” he added.
Not everyone is convinced that the class will be a critical look at Obama.
“Everyone knows professor Ogletree is an uncritical admirer of the president,” one Harvard Law student told TheDC. “To me, this looks like course credit for participating in an Obama fan club.”
Harvard Law School told TheDC that Harvard Law School J.D. students “must complete a minimum of 86 credits in order to graduate.”
According to U.S. News and World Report, tuition for a full-time student at Harvard Law School is $48,786 per year, making the cost of the three-year more than $146,000.