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. [Read more →]