Below, scientists who received honorary degrees at graduation ceremonies this spring give their thoughts on the tradition.

Roald Hoffmann, John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science at Cornell University, who received honorary degrees from the universities of Arizona and Central Florida last month: "One of the most memorable honorary degrees I received was from Yale University in 1980. Two times--when I had applied to college, and later, when I applied for a job after getting my Ph.D. I was rejected from Yale. They [the honorary degree committee] didn't know it but it made a good opening line for my talk."

Seymour D. Kety, professor emeritus of neuroscience at Harvard University, who received an honorary degree last month from the University of Michigan: "I remember an honorary degree I received from Georgetown University about three years ago. Another recipient was Nancy Reagan; she and I...

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