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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

AN EARNED DEGREE

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

The University of Bologna has offered an honorary degree to Premier Mussolini, which he will not accept without first undergoing an examination and submitting a thesis. "Only thus," he says, "will my conscience be clear. Only thus will I feel worthy of this honor."

It would do no harm for others to follow his example. The university degree, particularly in America, is losing much of its former meaning through indiscriminate bestowal on every visiting celebrity. A university is no longer considered hospitable unless its guest leaves with a longer title than he brought with him. Often the degree is aptly conferred. More often it is not.

Mussolini's conscience has not always seemed so scrupulous. He may have some deeper motive than he has cared to express. Unquestionably, his stock will rise in the public exchange when he has properly "earned" his degree; and it is one of the tricks of his trade to "get" the public by Napoleonic methods. But whatever may lie at the bottom of his action, he is setting a valuable precedent, which others may wisely follow.

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