Commencement 2016

Published in MIT News on June 3, 2016, by David L. Chandler

Matt Damon celebrates his “fake graduation” while addressing the Class of 2016

Matt Damon, the world-renowned actor and director who rose to fame in 1997 with his portrayal of an MIT janitor and math whiz in “Good Will Hunting,” gave this year’s MIT Commencement address and quipped that this is the second time he’s had a “fake graduation” in his hometown of Cambridge. The first time was when he participated in commencement at Harvard University even though he never graduated, having left a semester early to pursue his acting career.

“I did grow up in the neighborhood,” he said, but being on the podium at MIT’s Commencement, he said, “let’s face it, is an honor I didn’t really earn.” Listing some of the luminaries who have occupied that spot in the past, including Nobel laureates and heads of state, he said, “and who did you get? The guy who did the voice for a cartoon horse.”

In fact, his self-deprecating humor aside, Damon is not only a respected actor with a long and impressive list of film credits, he is also the founder of a charitable organization called Water.org, dedicated to a cause very much in line with MIT’s mission to help tackle the world’s most important and challenging problems. The organization aims to provide clean, safe water and sanitation to the millions around the world who lack such access...

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