Conferred November 6, 1987, by Colby President William R. Cotter.
The road from America’s junior newspaper publisher to senior aspirant for its Presidency has been a pluralistic journey, merging the pioneering spirit of your native Oregon into the liberal tradition of your adopted Illinois; combining the iconoclasm and indignation of a respected journalist, the vision and savvy of a successful legislator and the inspiration and integrity of both; blending the contemplative nature of a scholar and theoretician with the steadfast resolve of an activist and achiever.
Resolving that dedication to principle involves personal commitment, you purchased the Troy Tribune before your 20th birthday. In the military, put yourself on the line for the freedom you so valued as a counter intelligence agent in central Europe. Back home in Madison County, you and the Tribune crusaded against organized crime, attracting plaudits from Congress and the national news media and stamping yourself as an editor of courage in the mold of Elijah Parish Lovejoy, whose life you have chronicled in your extraordinary biography — Lovejoy: Martyr to Freedom. Government, you have written, “must offer people hope.” It has been your credo in the Illinois Legislature, the United States Congress and, now, a larger arena at the summit of a career that has elevated the political process, honoring the tradition of such predecessors as Abraham Lincoln, Adlai Stevenson, Everett Dirksen and Paul Douglas.
Tonight, sir, on the very eve of the sesquicentennial of his martyrdom, we are proud to strengthen your linkage to Lovejoy by bidding you to share his alma mater.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Paul Simon, the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma which I place in your hand are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges to which I declare you entitled.