Last week, the University announced this year’s ten-person list of honorary degree recipients, which includes esteemed film actor Jack Nicholson, National Medal of Science winner (and professor emeritus of mathematics) David Mumford and HuffPo’s own Arianna Huffington. While none of the honorees will actually speak during the May 29 ceremony, several of them (predictably the more academic types) will be participating in other Commencement Weekend events.
According to Encyclopedia Brunonia, the University has been awarding honorary degrees since the first commencement ceremony 1769 — though the practice has seen some major changes since its inception. The first class of recipients consisted of male graduates from other institutions who received the awards “at their own request” (but maybe they won them for effectively negating the meaning of ‘award’). While the University initially kept the names of the award-winners secret, the custom of pre-ceremony announcement began in 1963 and now the whole school can eagerly anticipate the arrival of NYT op-ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof. A fun fact about each of the five best-known recipients-with requisite commentary-after the jump.
Katie King Crowley (’97): A highly-regarded ice hockey player, King was a member of the gold medal-winning US Women’s team in the 1998 winter olympics. Even though women’s soccer seemed to be the breakout sport for about five minutes in the late nineties, we’ll always appreciate you more than Chastain.
Arianna Huffington: This mogul of web media ran for Governor of California in 2003 against Arnold Schwarzenegger, characterizing the race as “the hybrid vs. the Hummer.” The end result of this battle was obviously proof that global warming does not exist and MPG is a liberal conspiracy to destroy the American auto industry.
Nicholas D. Kristoff: An op-ed columnist for the New York Times, Kristof is also a former Rhodes Scholar (in law) and book author who is so accomplished, insightful and eloquent, he may be proof that Harvard doesn’t completely suck.
David Mumford: In addition to winning the National Medal of Science for his work in applied mathematics and computer vision, he also stars in this totally badass video from Brown’s own website in which he walks around in nature and lets Obama put a necklace over his head.
Jack Nicholson: Can you handle the truth that this guy is going to be awarded a D.F.A. from our beloved institution? (And no, hipster, D.F.A. has no ties to James “4 Hour Farewell Show” Murphy’s record label or some riot-inciting Canadian band).
You can read more about these honorees and the other recipients (astronaut David Scott, poet Bei Dao, playwright Lynn Ida Nottage, physicist Lisa Randall and activist Kenneth Roth) here on Brown’s website.