Mr. Rogers Sparks Dartmouth Protests
TV’s Mr. Rogers has resurfaced, though not on the tube. This weekend, reports the Associated Press, he will deliver the commencement address at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, though not all the graduates — many of whom were raised on his PBS show — are thrilled with his selection as speaker. “It’s like Barney the dinosaur speaking at our graduation,” history major Michael Weiss told the news service. “We’re 22 years old and we’re getting lectured by a guy who plays with puppets for a living.” (Among those puppets: King Friday XIII, Queen Sara Saturday, Edgar Cooke, X the Owl and Henrietta Pussycat.) Some students snidely speculated that Fred Rogers, 74, might open his speech with his trademark cheery “Hello, neighbor” and then slip into his comfortable cardigan while they sit it out in their caps and gowns. “I had hoped for someone more awe-evoking . . . some secretary of the U.N., or (former New York Mayor Rudolph) Giuliani, or a human-rights leader,” opined Chris Moore, a graduating philosophy major. Dartmouth College president James Wright, defending his decision to book Rogers, said the situation calls for an orator students can admire, who is experienced and is capable of offering timely remarks. Past Dartmouth graduation day speakers have included Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright. As for Rogers’s connection to Dartmouth, he attended for two years during the 1940s. He then transferred to Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.