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Updike, Stern Awarded Honorary Degrees At Harvard Commencement

June 4, 1992

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ Pulitzer prize-winning author John Updike and violinist Isaac Stern were awarded honorary degrees today at Harvard University’s 341st commencement.

Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, fresh from delivering a keynote speech on Wednesday at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, was scheduled to deliver Harvard’s principal commencement speech later in the day.

The commencement was interrupted briefly when Harvard Law School graduates booed Dean Robert Clark and held aloft a banner calling for his resignation. The Law School has been the scene of a continuing dispute over student demands for more women and minority faculty members.

Harvard’s student speaker, Peter M. Cicchino, said the nation’s oldest university embodies arrogance, contentiousness and a sense of entitlement - all tools its graduates could use to change the world.

″Talking about arrogance at Harvard is like talking about Catholicism at the Vatican,″ said Cicchino, a law student who has previously said he is the first openly gay student speaker at commencement.

″I say use that arrogance, take that sense of confidence and self-esteem, which Harvard has helped instill, and deploy it to console the afflicted and afflict the consoled,″ Cicchino told his 5,803 fellow graduates.

″The Harvard name does carry with it some intrinsic social capital. So spend that capital on behalf of those to whom this society does not listen and for whom this society has very little regard.″

Today’s commencement exercises in Harvard Yard dripped with ceremony and tradition. Alumni dressed in top hats and tails served as ushers, led by actor John Lithgow, a 1967 graduate. The university hymn and senior speech were delivered entirely in Latin.

Besides Updike, Stern and Brundtland, other honorary degree recipients were Smithsonian Institution Secretary Robert McCormick Adams Jr., former Harvard President Derek Bok, philanthropist Dominique de Menil, economist Robert Merton Solow, molecular biologist Joan Argetsinger Steitz, physicist Edward Stone, and retirement fund executive Clifton Wharton Jr.

The names of honorary degree recipients traditionally remain secret until the morning of commencement.

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