BOSTON — Boston Mayor Thomas Menino was among the nine to receive honorary degrees from Harvard University at the school’s commencement Thursday.
Menino, 70, who dropped out of college in the 1960s, earned his bachelor’s degree from UMass Boston in 1988 at the age of 45.
“My dad loved education, and when I was a young man I fought with him every day,” Menino told reporters after the ceremony. “And one day I said to my dad, ‘Harry Truman didn’t have a college degree and he became president.’ And my dad says to me, ‘But times are different, you need a college degree.’
“And I made that mistake,” Menino said of dropping out of college. “But that’s why I spent my whole career trying to work on making sure I try to educate the young people on how important it is to their future.”
The university credited Menino’s “pound-the-pavement work ethic” for his successful tenure as Boston’s longest-serving mayor.
“Known as the ‘Urban Mechanic,’ he has been lauded for running a fiscally responsible, scandal-free City Hall while reducing violent crime rates, improving student test scores, and overseeing a commercial and residential building boom that revitalized both struggling neighborhoods and the downtown and waterfront areas,” the university said in a statement.
Lawrence DiCara, a former Boston City Council president who graduated from Harvard in 1971, told The Boston Globe the honor is “indicative of the wonderful relationships [Menino] has crafted with major institutions across the city.”
The lifelong Hyde Park resident, who in March announced he would not run for an unprecedented sixth term, joined Oprah Winfrey, who was the featured commencement speaker. Other honorary award recipients included Jose Antonio Abreu, Partha Dasgupta, Donald Hopkins, Robert May, Elaine Pagels, C. Dixon Spangler Jr. and JoAnne Stubbe.