Intellectual Diversity on Campus and Honorary Degrees

April 10, 2014 | Karin

Honorary degrees are just that–honorary. They are used by universities to recruit speakers to commencement ceremonies. But they are also a barometer of intellectual diversity, or the lack thereof, on campuses today. Each year, universities announce their commencement speakers (who often receive honorary degrees). Young America’s Foundation’s Commencement Speakers Survey tracks conservative and liberal speakers, so you can see for yourself who is speaking where.

The latest controversy involves Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Brandeis University has decided to withdraw the honorary degree it was going to give her at commencement this year. Fox News reports:

The university said in a statement posted online that the decision had been made after a discussion between Ali and university President Frederick Lawrence.

“She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world,” said the university’s statement. “That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.”


She has released a statement in response, noting her shock at the situation.

Watch her appearance on The Kelly File from last night. This would be a great topic for discussion for our NeW chapters.

Capture 2014-4-10

And don’t forget about the controversy at Rutgers earlier this year when some faculty opposed Condoleezza Rice as the commencement speaker.

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