Ben Affleck's Fancy New Doctorate Is Obnoxiously Pointless

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Ben AffleckHow do you feel about the name "Dr. Benjamin Affleck"? It's got a certain ring to it, don't you think? I don't know if that's how everyone's going to start referring to Ben Affleck, but the title's about to be technically correct, because Brown University is awarding him an honorary doctorate next month. The Academy Award-winning actor and director is among six artists, writers, scientists, and educators selected to receive honorary degrees from Brown during graduation ceremonies on May 26.

This isn't exactly an unprecedented move: Bill Pullman, Jack Nicholson, and Stephen Colbert are among other Hollywood elite members to receive doctorates without putting in the university time. Still, there's something that rubs me the wrong way about the whole practice. Maybe it's how I can't stop thinking about the insane amount of money and effort it takes for non-celebrities to earn such a distinguished degree?

Or maybe it's the hundreds of dollars I save every month so my two boys have a shot at earning a regular old bachelor's degree without racking up a ton of debt. Or the fact that this is the first college degree for Affleck, who attended Occidental College in Los Angeles as well as the University of Vermont, but dropped out after his first semester. His first degree is a DOCTORATE? What?

Or mayyyybe it's that Ben Affleck, as accomplished and talented as he is, just really doesn't need an instantaneous fine arts degree to add to his resume. I mean, was he having trouble getting work? Will his doctorate open doors that were previously closed to him?

Of course, this being an HONORARY degree, it's not really a REAL degree. So why award it? According to Wikipedia,

The university often derives benefits by association with the person in question.

Ah. Well, according to Brown's website, Affleck won't be a commencement speaker, but maybe his pretend degree will add more prestige to the already-prestigious Ivy League school. Or maybe he'll open the Affleck Library or something.

At any rate, Affleck joins five others getting honorary doctorates in May, including author and MIT Professor Junot Diaz; retired Stanford University bacteriologist Stanley Falkow; Tougaloo College President Beverly Wade Hogan; physician and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President Risa Lavizzo-Mourey; and Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padron.

Gosh, he's come a long way. Remember when it was turkey time, Dr. Affleck? Gobble gobble.


What do you think about the practice of awarding honorary degrees?


Image via Erin Lassahn Photography/Flickr

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nonmember avatar kaerae

Ugh, I hate this whole practice too. It is such a colossal slap in the face to the people who actually earned them. I guess the schools are lookking for maybe a donation or publicity, but I have always hated this!

nonmember avatar Cara

I spent the time, money and effort to earn an advanced degree. And, I just don't get why anyone pays attention to honorary degrees. They don't feel like a slap in the face, precisely because they don't mean anything academically. They are a recognition of a life accomplishment, so maybe they are a nice pat on the back, but that's about it. I don't see why anyone would care enough that they would benefit the university either. Then again, look at the press Brown just received....

nonmember avatar Margaery

Thanks Cara for clearing that up- I'd like to add that even with an honorary doctorate, he doesn't get to call himself Dr. Affleck. It's an empty title, if you will, maybe you should do your research before writing up such a sorry excuse for journalism.

Stacy Martineau

Holy crap people, its an entertainment article, its an opinion piece about something she found interesting, the doctor comment is a joke, she never said it actually grants them the title of doctor, calm down

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