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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Bill Cosby to be Rensselaer's Commencement Speaker

March 28, 2001

Bill Cosby to be Rensselaer's Commencement Speaker

Troy, N.Y. — Bill Cosby, entertainer and educator, will be the featured speaker for Rensselaer’s 195th Commencement at 9:30 a.m. May 12 at the Pepsi Arena in Albany. Cosby will be granted an honorary doctorate in Arts and Humane Letters.

“We are delighted that Bill Cosby has accepted our invitation to speak at Commencement,” said Rensselaer President Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson. “Dr. Cosby’s commitment to education, his work in educational television, his advocacy of the highest personal values, and his magnificent wit have made him a treasured part of American culture and a vital force in raising the aspirations of young people around the world.”

Cosby, who is well known for his commitment to education, believes that the best assurance for a satisfying and rewarding life begins with knowledge. Long after he had achieved much of his success as an entertainer, Cosby, a graduate of Temple University, went back to college to obtain a master’s degree as well as a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Cosby was born to William and Anna Cosby on July 12, 1937, at Germantown Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Calling himself a “late bloomer,” he did not realize the value of a formal education until after the first four days of boot camp in the U.S. Navy. Cosby said, “Four years later in May, when I got out of the Navy, I hit the ground running from Norfolk, Va. and immediately enrolled at Temple.”

When possible, Cosby welcomes the opportunity to speak at colleges and universities. “It is always a pleasure to see those fresh faces of the new graduates,” he says. “It’s also fun to notice the relieved smiles of the parents who are wondering, ’Are they going to be all right?’ The unanswered questions are now really directed at them.”

Mrs. Cosby is equally passionate about the importance of education and she too has attained an Ed.D. Together they have strived to promote the importance of a good education. They have donated funds to a wide range of universities and delivered commencement addresses to further emphasize the importance of learning.

Contact: Bruce Adams
Phone: (518) 276-6531
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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.