Thousands of new college graduates have been rubbing shoulders with some of the science community's heaviest hitters during the past month and a half, thanks to the hallowed tradition of the honorary degree.

Adding luster to commencement ceremonies at campuses throughout the United States this year have been such luminaries, for example, as Torsten Wiesel, Anthony Fauci, Walter Massey, Gertrude Elion, Stanley Cohen, D. Allan Bromley, and Maxine Singer. These and dozens of other men and women researchers were honored for their contributions to science and, at the same time, positioned as role models for members of the 1993 class to respect, if not emulate.

At some schools, celebrated scientists seized the opportunity to address the graduates, and when they spoke, they tried to hit home with messages appropriately contoured for their young audiences. At the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health commencement ceremonies, for example, Joycelyn Elders--Presi- dent Clinton's...

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