Mark Zuckerberg gets honorary law degree from Harvard, the university he dropped out of to start Facebook

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By Katie King on

He joins a long list of (sometimes unusual) celebs with honorary degrees

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has received an honorary degree from the university he famously dropped out of 12 years ago — to start Facebook. Interestingly, although Zuckerberg was studying computer science when he set up the social network, his honorary degree is in law.

The 33-year-old multi-billionaire returned to Harvard University yesterday to receive his legum doctorem, and to give a Commencement speech to some of the Ivy League institute’s alumni.

Zuckerberg — now the youngest Commencement speaker in the uni’s history — told the graduates:

I’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.

He continued:

Today I want to talk about three ways to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose: by taking on big meaningful projects together, by redefining equality so everyone has the freedom to pursue purpose, and by building community across the world.

Zuckerberg is in good company. Other people to be awarded honorary Harvard law degrees, abbreviated LL.D. by the uni, include Desmond Tutu (1979) and Winston Churchill (1943). A whole host of ex-presidents have been awarded them too, including John F. Kennedy (1956), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1929) and Herbert Hoover (1917).

But you don’t have to be a president to receive an honorary doctorate in law.

Did you know that, in 2014, the University of East Anglia made comedian Julian Clary an honorary doctor of civil law? And that this was the same title given to singer and campaigner Bob Geldof by Newcastle University in 2007?

Other unexpected names to obtain UK honorary law degrees include Yoko Ono. The peace campaigner, singer and widow of John Lennon accepted a law degree from University of Liverpool in 2001. Paul Lindley, who founded baby food brand Ella’s Kitchen, was given an honorary law degree from the University of Reading in 2013.

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