Tom Hanks Receives Honorary Degree from Harvard 'Without Having Done a Lick of Work'

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Tom Hanks urged Harvard University graduates to 'do the work of creating a more perfect union' as he gave the school's 2023 commencement address

<p>Jay Connor /</p>

Jay Connor /

Tom Hanks is an (honorary) Harvard graduate!

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Hanks, 66, appeared at Harvard University to deliver a commencement address to graduating students in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Thursday. The Ivy League school conferred an honorary doctorate of arts upon the actor as he joked that he had received the degree "without having done a lick of work, without having spent any time in class, without once walking into that library."

"I don't know much about Latin, I have no real passion for enzymes, and public global policy is something I scan in the newspaper just before I do the Wordle," he joked to graduates as he spoke at Harvard Yard's Tercentenary Theatre, before urging students to stand up against the "indifference of a people who have been made weary by struggle."

<p>Jay Connor /</p>

Jay Connor /

“Indifference makes citizens into indentured servants held in labor by the despots and tyrants whose default setting is cynicism, who outlawed dissent and ban art and dialogue and books," Hanks said, during a speech filled with references to Superman and other superheroes.

“Every day, every year, and for every graduating class, there is a choice to be made," Hanks told the graduating class. "It’s the same option for all grown-ups who have to decide to be one of three types of Americans: those who embrace liberty and freedom for all, those who won’t or those who are indifferent. Only the first do the work of creating a more perfect union, a nation indivisible. The others get in the way.”

Related: Tom Hanks Reveals He Questioned Whether Anyone Was 'Going to Care' About 'Goofy' Forrest Gump

<p>Jay Connor /</p>

Jay Connor /

During Hanks' appearance at the university, Harvard also gave him a Harvard-branded volleyball in reference to his 2000 movie Cast Away. Students from the school's theatrical group Hasty Pudding performed a number detailing the actor's significant film credits prior to his speech.

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Harvard previously announced Hanks as its 2023 commencement speaker back in March, with university president Larry Bacow saying in a statement at the time that the actor has "contributed to our national culture and expanded our ability to appreciate stories and histories that have been previously unexamined."

Related: Tom Hanks Says He Could Still Star in Movies After His Death, Thanks to AI

<p>Jay Connor /</p>

Jay Connor /

Hanks and his wife of 35 years, producer and actress Rita Wilson, appeared at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday for the world premiere of the new movie Asteroid City, in which they both appear. The film, directed by Wes Anderson, received a nearly six-minute long standing ovation following its premiere at the international film festival.

Hanks himself studied theater at Chabot College and later graduated from California State University in Sacramento, Calif., before embarking on an acting career that has since spanned more than 40 years and two Academy Award wins.

Asteroid City releases in select theaters June 16 before it goes nationwide June 23.

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