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Bob Newhart encourages graduates to keep on laughing

SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 10, 2000 - Entertainer Bob Newhart reminded nearly 1,200 graduates of Santa Clara University today of the importance of retaining a sense of humor in life. Humor, said Newhart, brings out the "child in all of us … and sets us free."

After receiving an honorary doctor of fine arts degree, and treating an audience of nearly 15,000 to some personalized standup comedy, Newhart experienced the highlight of his day, by hugging his daughter Courtney and handing her a bouquet of roses as she walked across the stage to receive her diploma.

The 149th undergraduate commencement at Santa Clara University began at 9 a.m. today, filling Buck Shaw Stadium under blue skies, as a northerly wind unfurled flags of 93 countries, representing the homelands of students, faculty and staff at the 7,700-student Catholic Jesuit university.

Newhart, himself a graduate of a Jesuit university, Loyola of Chicago, entertained the audience with stories of his Catholic upbringing, followed by some humility and a little philosophy about his role as comedian. " I certainly don't delude myself that there are more important things to do, however I can't imagine anything that could have brought me more joy," he said of his career.

"Usually in a commencement address, they honor some statesman, or educator or a politician, so it's quite unusual to be honored as a comedian," he said. "I'm not sure you have the right person, but I'm highly honored."

Newhart quoted from a book by Sen. John McCain, Faith of My Fathers, saying that humor "defines our sanity."

"People with a sense of humor tend to be less egocentric, more realistic in their view of life, more humble about their success and less defeated in travail," he quoted McCain as saying.

Graduate school ceremonies are set for 9:45 a.m.Sunday, June 11. The speaker is Silicon Valley philanthropist Ann Bowers, a member of the SCU Board of Trustees.

Presiding at his last commencement ceremonies was SCU Provost Stephen Privett, S.J., who is leaving to be the new president of the University of San Francisco.

Santa Clara University's first commencement occurred in 1851, the same year it was founded as California's first institution of higher education.

The following honorary degrees also were awarded today:
Doctor of Education, Sister M. Claude Power; Doctor of Education, Rev. Edwin J. McDermott, S.J.; Doctor of Pastoral Ministry, Sister Patricia Marie Mulpeters.


For more information, call Barry Holtzclaw, 408-554-5126, email or see

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