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April 17: Bill Cosby To Deliver Keynote Address at Carnegie Mellon Commencement


Teresa Thomas

Bill Cosby To Deliver Keynote Address
At Carnegie Mellon Commencement, May 20    

PITTSBURGH—Bill Cosby, an award-winning comedian, actor, author and recording artist well known for his commitment to education, will deliver the keynote address at Carnegie Mellon University's 110th commencement Sunday, May 20. The main ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. in Gesling Stadium on the Carnegie Mellon campus.     

Bill Cosby"As an actor, a humorist, and a citizen, Bill Cosby has been one of America's most eloquent advocates for education and the value of developing every individual mind," said Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon. "We are delighted that he will join us to celebrate, in his inimitable style, the achievements and the promise of the class of 2007."    

An entertainment industry icon, Cosby has won numerous awards and honors for his work, including several Emmy and Grammy awards, the Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. He and his wife, Camille, who both have Ph.D.s in education, have donated funds to a wide range of universities and delivered many commencement addresses to further emphasize the importance of learning.     

"It's always a pleasure to see those fresh faces of new graduates," Cosby said. "It's also fun to notice the relieved smiles of the parents who are wondering, 'Are they going to be all right?' The unanswered questions are now really directed at them."

Cosby will also receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Carnegie Mellon. Five other honorary degree recipients will join him on the commencement stage. They are:

  • Helen S. Faison, director of the Pittsburgh Teachers Institute — a professional development program for Pittsburgh public school teachers — will receive a doctor of humane letters. Faison was a visiting professor and chair of the Education Department at Chatham University and was an interim superintendent for the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
  • Wilton A. Hawkins (E'48), who helped develop and patent a wide range of products and processes for the aerospace, chemical, electronics and semiconductor industries, will receive a doctor of science and technology. Founder of Chemplast, Hawkins retired in 1999 as vice president of Norton Performance Plastics Division. He is an emeritus life trustee of Carnegie Mellon.
  • Paolo Lugari, a civil and environmental engineer who founded the Gaviotas community in Colombia, South America, will receive a doctor of science and technology. Lugari has developed Gaviotas into a model village for social, economic and environmental sustainability through the use of several technologies, such as hydroponic greenhouses that recycle waste from rice farms, biogas electricity generators, solar energy collectors, and water collection and purification systems.
  • Gerald C. Meyers (E'50, TPR'54), a former executive with American Motors, the Ford Motor Company and the Chrysler Corporation, is president of his own business consulting firm and a professor of management and organization at the University of Michigan Ross Business School. An expert in corporate governance and crisis management, Meyers will receive a doctor of business practice. He is the author of "When It Hits The Fan, Managing The Nine Crises of Business" and co-author of "Dealers, Healers, Brutes & Saviors: Eight Winning Styles for Solving Giant Business Crises."
  • Earl Wild (A'37), one of the greatest classical pianists of all time, will receive a doctor of fine arts. At age six it was discovered that he had absolute pitch, and by age 14 he was the resident pianist with the Pittsburgh Symphony. At 21 he became the staff pianist for NBC in New York City. Wild has enjoyed a stellar career and has performed for numerous U.S. presidents. He was on the Carnegie Mellon faculty from 1992 to 2006 as a visiting artist-in-residence. In 2005, Wild performed at venues around the world to celebrate his 90th birthday.    
"Dr. Cosby and the other honorary degree candidates exemplify, in their various callings, how learning, coupled with discipline and integrity, inspires creative choices that have unexpected impact on our community, our nation and our planet," said President Cohon.    

Catherine Scudera, a Science and Humanities Scholar who will receive a bachelor's degree in psychology and creative writing with a minor in religious studies, will be the student speaker.

More than 2,100 undergraduate and graduate degrees will be conferred at this year's commencement. The ceremony will be broadcast live at

[Photo courtesy of Erinn]

Update: April 26, 2018—University Statement: Revoking Bill Cosby's Honorary Degree