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June 23

June 23, 1938 – Walt Disney Receives Honorary Degree from Harvard

“I am greatly honored to know that the Governing Board of Harvard University have voted to confer upon me the honorary degree of Master of Fine Arts on Commencement Day, June 23rd.”

On June 23, 1938, Walt Disney received an honorary degree from Harvard University, his third honorary degree of the year. With the success of the character Mickey Mouse, as well as the animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney was honored for, as Harvard’s then-president James Bryant Conant stated, “…[creating] a modern dwelling for the Muses; his hand controls a multitude of elfish animals who charm all humans by their mirth.”


June 22

June 22, 1938 – Walt Disney Given Honorary Degree from Yale University

Walt Degree

“[Disney] has accomplished something that has defied all the efforts and experiments of the laboratories in zoology and biology; he has given impressive significance to the word anima in animated; he has given animals souls.”

On June 22, 1938, Walt Disney was awarded his second honorary degree: a Master of Arts degree from Yale University; the first degree was a Master of Science from the University of Southern California, and the third was another Master of Arts degree from Harvard University. He was given the award by Professor William Lyon Phelps, the university’s public orator. Walt had been considered for an honorary degree by Yale as early as 1935, after the overwhelming success of Mickey Mouse.

August 14

August 14, 1939 – Donald Duck Day is Celebrated at the 1939 World’s Fair

Image courtesy of the New York Public Library

Image courtesy of the New York Public Library

“Donald Duck arrives at National Biscuit Company Exhibit: presents gifts to first 500 juvenile guests and meets Judy Canova.”

On August 14, 1939, it was declared Donald Duck Day at the 1939 World’s Fair, held in New York’s Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. A three foot model of the famous duck was flown in from the Disney Studios to make an appearance beginning at noon. Donald was on hand to show his latest short film, Donald’s Penguin. Donald was also, in tribute to his popularity, awarded an honorary doctorate as the Doctor of International Friendship (D.I.F) from the Professor of American History at Yale University.

May 2

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May 2, 2009 – John Lasseter is Awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Pepperdine University


“Never let anyone kill your dreams.”

On May 2, 2009, John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, gave the commencement address at the Frank R. Seaver College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences at Pepperdine University, in Malibu, California. Lasseter was also presented an Honorary Doctorate degree for his work in the field of computer animation. Lasseter had started his education there, as it was the alma mater of his parents and siblings, but transferred to the California Institute of the Arts to pursue his dream of becoming an animator. In his speech, he encouraged the almost 500 graduates to never let anyone destroy their dreams.