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Obama still quibbling over college grade

The president has a pleasant reunion at the White House with his Occidental College politics professor. And he just can't quite get over that 'B' on a paper.

August 16, 2009|Larry Gordon

Does your grade on a college term paper still tug at you years or decades later? Well, join the man in the White House.

Last week, President Barack Obama had a warm reunion in the Oval Office with Occidental College politics professor Roger Boesche. The two hadn't seen each other since 1981, when Obama, then known as Barry, was about to transfer from the Los Angeles college to Columbia University in New York.

Over the years, Obama has cited Boesche as one of his most influential teachers, but the two had had only sporadic contact via e-mail.

On Thursday, they met again at the president's invitation. Boesche, back in his Eagle Rock home Saturday, said Obama jokingly recalled that pesky "B" Boesche had given him on a paper on European political thought. The president, Boesche said, also reminded him that he had turned down Obama's appeal for an "A."

"He still didn't agree about that grade," said Boesche, laughing.

Their discussion of 10 minutes or so touched on more serious topics such as healthcare. Boesche, 61, has struggled with rheumatoid arthritis and said he thanked the president for his reform efforts.

Boesche said he, his wife, Mandy, and their daughter, Kelsey, came away impressed by Obama's charm and friendliness.

"It was a complete thrill," Boesche said.

(The White House press office did not respond to a request for the president's response to the reunion.)

Asked if he had seen the makings of a president in his young student nearly 30 years ago, Boesche said he could not claim he had. He urged other professors and teachers to "realize that in any class, you could have a child, a young man or woman, who could do incredibly great things in the world. So teach as well as you can."

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larry.gordon@latimes.com

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