How 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