Harvard To Honor Ted Kennedy

Over 50 years after his graduation from Harvard College, Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy ’54-’56 will receive an honorary degree from the University at a convocation ceremony held at 4:30 this afternoon.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who served as chief counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary under then-chairman Kennedy, is scheduled to speak about the senator at the Sanders Theatre ceremony. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma ’76 and Harvard students will perform musical selections. University President Drew G. Faust will also speak.

The Massachusetts senator was initially scheduled to be honored during Commencement last spring, but was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor two weeks before the ceremony, preventing him from being given the award at that time.

Tickets to today’s event were distributed by private invitation and through a lottery organized by the Institute of Politics. According to an e-mail sent by the Office of the President earlier this month, tickets not claimed by 3:45 p.m. this afternoon will be distributed to the general public.

The ceremony will also be broadcast live on the Harvard Web site.

The youngest member of the famous Massachusetts political family, Kennedy prepped for Harvard at Milton Academy and entered the College in the fall of 1950.

At the end of his freshman year, Kennedy was suspended for having another student take a Spanish exam in his place. He spent the next two years in the U.S. Army before returning to Harvard in the fall of 1953.

The Winthrop House resident was a defensive end on the Harvard football team and scored the only Harvard touchdown in the Harvard-Yale Game his senior year.

A Government concentrator at the College, Kennedy was elected to serve as the U.S. senator from Massachusetts in 1962. He served as senate majority whip from 1969 to 1971 and is currently the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Kennedy has been reelected seven times, making him the second-longest serving current member of the Senate.

Kennedy was also involved in the creation of the Institute of Politics, which commemorates his brother John F. Kennedy ’40, and he serves as a member of the IOP’s Senior Advisory Committee.

Today’s ceremony is one of only a handful of special convocations the University has held to award honorary degrees. George Washington, Winston Churchill, and Nelson Mandela are among those who have received degrees at special ceremonies.

Staff Writer Lauren D. Kiel can be reached at