Most universities grant honorary degrees. This morning Yale granted 10. One of them was presented to Marilynne Robinson, novelist and essayist.
Professor Robinson earned her bachelor of arts in 1966 from Pembroke College, the women’s college that merged into Brown University five years later.
She was encouraged by her parents and her older brother, art historian David Summers, to complete a Ph.D. in English at the University of Washington and began to establish her career as a writer.
During her writing career Robinson has received numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005, the 2012 National Humanities Medal, and the 2016 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. In 2016 Robinson was named in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people.
Robinson is best known for her novels Housekeeping, published in 1980, and Gilead, published in 2004. Her novels are known for thematic depiction of rural life and faith.
President Obama stated that Robinson is known for her “grace and intelligence in writing.”
For the commencement ceremony today, each honorary degree recipient was asked for a quote, which was printed in the program. Here was Robinson’s:
“This is the best advice I was ever given: Be sure to make your mind an interesting companion, because it will be with you every minute of your life.”
Today was the last day of a wonderful long weekend in New Haven. It was full of celebration, commemoration, expectation and incitation.
My mind became more interesting by simply participating, partaking and engaging. It is my companion for life and I definitely want to treat it well.
Thank you, Marilynne, for the reminder. And congratulations on your honorary degree. You have most certainly earned it.