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Obama's Oxy professor reports: 'He still didn't agree about that grade'

August 15, 2009 | 12:15 pm

Occidental Professor Roger Boesche pictured in his Eagle Rock home office in December. Boesche taught two classes in political thought to Obama - and urged him to work harder. Credit: Jay Clendenin/Los Angeles Times 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 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.

Barack Obama-- seen in the photo submitted with his 1979 application to Occidental College -- later transferred to Columbia University in New York. Credit: Occidental College 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 his 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,” he 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.”

-- Larry Gordon

Top photo: Occidental College professor Roger Boesche pictured in his Eagle Rock home office in December. Credit: Jay Clendenin/Los Angeles Times. Bottom photo: Barack Obama, seen in the photo he submitted with his 1979 college application. Credit: Occidental College