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George W. Bush (right) is the third generation in his family to receive an honorary degree from the University.

Yale Honors Latest 'Son of Eli' in White House

During its 300th graduation, Yale paid tribute to the latest of its alumni to occupy the Oval Office -- George W. Bush '68 B.A., the 43rd president of the United States -- by awarding him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Presenting the honorary degree to Bush, President Richard C. Levin noted: "Few families in Yale's 300 years have so devotedly exemplified the University's commitment to public service as yours. ... We are proud to have another son of Eli in the White House, and we are honored to bestow upon you the same degree we bestowed upon your father and grandfather, Doctor of Laws."

Bush then spoke briefly to the 3,000 graduates and the 20,000 family members, friends and well-wishers who had gathered on Old Campus on May 21, 2001. Looking back on his undergraduate years, the President said, "What stays with you from college is the part of your education you hardly ever notice at the time. It's the expectations and examples around you, the ideals you believe in, and the friends you make. ... All universities, at their best, teach that degrees and honors are far from the full measure of life. Nor is that measure taken in wealth or in titles. What matters most are the standards you live by, the consideration you show others and the way you use the gifts you are given."

Speaking directly to the graduates, he said, "Life is ours to live, but not to waste, and ... the greatest rewards are found in the commitments we make with our whole hearts -- to the people we love and to the causes that earn our sacrifice. I hope that each of you will know these rewards. I hope you will find them in your own way and your own time."

In closing, the President noted that he had been born in New Haven but raised in Texas. "From there, Yale always seemed a world away, maybe a part of my future. Now it's part of my past, and Yale for me is a source of great pride. I hope that there will come a time for you to return to Yale to say that, and feel as I do today. And I hope you won't wait as long. Congratulations and God bless."


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