Education: Degree Racket

[The honorary degree system is] a sham and a shame. . . . If a man is made a doctor of laws, the public has a right to know whether it means he has fought a battle, or is on the right side in politics, or is the donor to the extent of $5,000 and upwards.

So thundered Yale's late Professor Daniel Coit Gilman (later first president of Johns Hopkins) in 1867. Nobody took his thunderings very seriously, not even Professor Gilman; he eventually accepted nine honorary LL.D.s himself. Today U.S. colleges and universities hand...

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