The University of Vermont will be awarding an honorary degree to Ben Stein, the man behind the movie Expelled. Here's the press release from the University of Vermont [Ben Stein to Deliver Commencement Address]. Notice that they don't mention the movie. That's no excuse.
The multi-talented Ben Stein, actor/comedian/lawyer/economist/presidential speechwriter/filmmaker, will address the graduates and receive an honorary degree at the University of Vermont's 205th commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 17.The University of Vermont offers a Major in Biochemistry. Before enrolling, students need to check out the courses to see if they encourage critical thinking and to see how evolution is presented.
Popularly known as the host of Comedy Central's seven-time Emmy award winning game show, "Win Ben Stein's Money," and for an iconic classroom scene in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Stein is also an accomplished writer who has published 30 books and written for publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to E! Online and New York Magazine. Stein earned his undergraduate degree with honors in economics from Columbia University and went on to graduate as valedictorian of his class from Yale Law School. He has taught at American University, the University of California at Santa Cruz and Pepperdine University in subjects ranging from political and social content of mass culture to securities law. Along with his academic and entertainment achievements, Stein has as served as a trial lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission and as White House speechwriter for presidents Nixon and Ford.
The University of Vermont has every right to award honorary degrees to anyone they want. That's what academic freedom is all about. The downside is that the University of Vermont will be judged by who they choose to get an honorary degree. That judgment is not going to be favorable.
UPDATE: Ben Stein has decided that he has another commitment that will prevent him from receiving the honorary degree from the University of Vermont [Stein backs out].
Having been involved in selecting honorary degree recipients, I can assure everyone that you don't make public announcements until the candidate has agreed. Thus, it looks very much like Ben Stein and the university have made a joint decision that inviting Stein to accept an honorary degree was a mistake.
I'm glad the University of Vermont came to its senses.