About 1,500 Georgetown University students celebrated their emergence from academic life yesterday, many by jumping up and down, guzzling champagne and applauding virtually anything that moved.
In a brief, occasionally raucous outdoor ceremony, the graduates were congratulated by commencement speaker George Will, a Washington Post columnist, "for not resembling the class of 1968," which he said was their "most conspicuous virtue." Will received an honorary doctorate in humane letters.
Honorary degrees also went to CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, Housing and Urban Development Seretary Patricia Roberts Harris, D.C. School Superintendent Vincent E. Reed, Rep. Silvio Conte (R-Mass.), Msgr. George G. Higgins, and lawyer-turned-professor-of-nursing Helen E. Creighton.
Cronkite, introduced as "the most credible and the most trusted public figure in our national life," seemed to confirm the billing by generating some of the loudest applause of the afternoon when he rose to receive his degree. But widespread cries of "Speech!" could not induce him to deliver one.
Another loud cry of delight came when the graduates of the school of nursing, many armed with champagne bottles, were given their degrees by the Rev. Timotny S. Healy, Georgetown's president. "By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Congress of the United States and by the board of directors of Georgetown University," delcared Healy, "and on condition that none of them go near a hospital tonight, I officially confer upon them the degree of bachelor of science in nursing."
One conspicuous graduate was George Menakis, who had painted the words "Hire Me" in white letters atop his black mortarboard. Menakis, a marketing major, said he was looking for a job with an advertising firm.