It's been quite a year for Ben Affleck. First, the actor and director won the Academy Award for Best Picture for his box office hit "Argo." Then, he received an honorary doctorate from Brown University. Dressed like a true academic in his doctoral cap and gown, Affleck raised his arms in the air with a look of pure pride and excitement after the university president conferred the honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree on him.
Affleck and five other candidates received honorary degrees at the 245th Commencement Ceremony at Brown University, which took place on May 26 on the College Green. The Brown University Board of Fellows choose the candidates who receive honorary doctorates each year, and the university president confers those degrees on the candidates. University President Christina Paxson read a statement about each candidate in English and in Latin as part of the ceremony.
Paxson noted that Affleck is an accomplished actor and director, who puts an emphasis on showcasing the many different diverse aspects of American life.
According to a press release from Brown University, Paxson made these statements during the commencement ceremony about Affleck: "As a storyteller you have brought your deep love for your home town of Boston vividly to the screen. You have been heralded as a talented producer and an astute director, and that promise came to fruition last year with the success of the Academy Award-winning film Argo. Through your depiction of this fascinating piece of American history, you both entertained and encouraged viewers to think critically about our international relationships."
Paxson added that Affleck also was chosen to receive the honorary degree because of his humanitarian work across the globe. She referenced his Eastern Congo Initiative organization, which aims to help the people of the Congo with education, community health and economic development.
Affleck was in good company at the ceremony. Five other people were awarded honorary degrees by the university, including:
• Junot Diaz: Editor and author who received a Doctor of Letters degree from the university. Diaz has been a Pulitzer Prize winner as well as a MacArthur Fellow.
• Stanley Falkow: Bacteriologist who was awarded a Doctor of Science degree from the Board of Fellows. Falkow is an alumnus of Brown University who is a pioneer in the microbiology field.
• Beverly Wade Hogan: President of Tougaloo College who was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Wade Hogan is considered to be a civic leader in the state of Mississippi.
• Risa Lavizzo-Mourey: Physician who was awarded a Doctor of Medical Science from Brown University. Lavizzo-Mourey is a physician, policy maker and professor who has made significant contributions to the public health sector.
• Eduardo J. Padron: President of Miami Dade College who received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Padron is considered to be a civic leader who promotes the cause of higher education, and is known as one of today's most influential college presidents.
The Brown University Board of Fellows chooses the winners based on their contributions to their field as well as their humanitarian efforts.