Ah, graduation day--pomp, circumstance and a speech by the highest-wattage star on whom the university can grant an honorary degree. Competition for the big-name orators can start years in advance (Bill Cosby can't be everywhere at once). Students may not care, but the spectacle is really for the day's true heroes: the parents. Herewith a sampling of this season's spiels.
Her Creds: B.A. in literature, Yale University
Her Message: University of Pennsylvania's seniors, who were initially underwhelmed by the selection of the actress as speaker, gave standing applause to Foster's inspirational homily after she quoted the apostle Eminem: "You better lose yourself in the music, the moment. You own it."
"Your Penn education has given you a two-by-four. You may build a building or hit someone over the head."
Her Creds: B.A. in American studies, University of Virginia
Her Message: The seasoned newswoman, who steps down this week from her post as Today show co-host, had this bit of wisdom for University of Oklahoma seniors.
"If you skip that keg party to go the extra mile, people will take notice. And you'll feel much better in the morning."
His Creds: B.A. in government, St. Lawrence University
His Message: As if to prove that smart equals sexy, Mortensen preached the value of activism to his alma mater's class of 2006 by quoting Seneca--in Latin: "Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt." Translation?
"Fate leads those who are willing. The unwilling it drags."
His Creds: B.A. in political science, Yale University
His Message: The silver-haired CNN anchor told Yale students to "follow your bliss," but his droll Class Day address (a day before the official commencement, hence the hat) also poked fun at his mother Gloria Vanderbilt, fellow Yalie President Bush and the zeal with which the Ivy hits up ex-students for money.
"If Osama bin Laden was a Yale graduate, [the Yale University fund raisers] would know what cave he was in, exactly."
His Creds: Doctorate in education, University of Massachusetts
His Message: Cosby fired off a rallying cry at the historically black women's Spelman College in Atlanta.
"Young boys are dropping out of high school, but they've memorized the lyrics of difficult rap songs, and they know how to braid each other's hair ... Never before has life been so perfect for you to take charge."
His Creds: B.A. in drama, Tufts University
His Message: After picking up his honorary doctorate, Dr. Hurt joked, "And now I can do your teeth." He then waxed philosophical to the graduating class of Philadelphia's University of the Arts, which included his son Alexander.
"Art is resuscitation, it is rejuvenation ... Art recognizes humanity and frees it."