If you haven’t heard by now, it’s true. Sean “Diddy” Combs, entrepreneur, philanthropist and entertainment mogul, will be this year’s commencement speaker at Howard University, receiving an honorary doctorate in humanities from the university on Saturday, May 10, 2014.
Since the morning that President Wayne Frederick sent this announcement email, social media sites and classrooms have been buzzing with debates and disagreements about the situation. It seems as though Howard’s students have come to a split decision on whether or not this was a good move for the university.
Many students and faculty support President Frederick’s choice of speaker because of the simple fact that, although Combs attended Howard in the late 1980s and left before graduating, he still managed to launch a very successful entrepreneurial career which, according to Forbes magazine, has earned him a net worth of $700 million.
On the other side of the issue, that piece of paper makes all the difference.
Plenty of students, especially graduating seniors, think that it was an unfair and undeserving choice. Perhaps they would prefer that a Steve Madden or a Mark Zuckerburg give the address.
While those students are entitled to feel the way that they do, nothing terrifyingly horrible can come of this situation. Combs went out into the world on his own, with no degree, and managed to accomplish everything that most college graduates couldn’t have dreamed of doing and then some. Despite the fact that his career track and business statistics speak to his credibility as an entrepreneur whose work has contributed to the advancement of his field, Combs is also said to be one of the highest individual donors to the university. In the book “Sean “Diddy” Combs: A Biography of a Music Mogul”, he is said to have given $500,000 in scholarship money to Howard in order to support students pursuing careers in entertainment.
Much of Howard’s population that is looking at this situation negatively, is also looking at it selfishly. There is nothing wrong with inviting a diverse quality of commencement speakers to address Howard students each year. This provides students with a more relatable and current graduation experience while, at the same time, bridges part of the gap between Howard and its alumni; yes, alumni.
Photo courtesy of: May 31, 2008 – Source: Charley Gallay/Getty Images North America