It is unusual for a fictional character to receive an honorary degree, but colleges and universities have been known to provide honorary academic degrees to characters portrayed in the movies or on television. A notable example is Kermit the Frog, a character from the award-winning television show Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. Southampton College in New York honored Kermit with an honorary degree in 1996. The character was awarded a Doctorate of Amphibious Letters.
More facts about honorary degrees:
- The Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Mos Def Colbert, D.F.A., a character portrayed on television by actor Stephen Colbert, received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Knox College in 2006. The character later attempted to burn the degree while on the air.
- Lionel Woodville was the recipient of the earliest recorded honorary degree. The degree was issued during the 1470s by the University of Oxford. Woodville would later go on to become the Bishop of Salisbury. The first known honorary degree issued in the Americas was in 1692, when Increase Mather was named an honorary Doctor of Sacred Theology by Harvard College.
- Not all universities issue honorary degrees. Notable exceptions include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University and Stanford University.