Iconic filmmaker John Waters, school dropout, to receive an honorary degree

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Iconic filmmaker John Waters, school dropout, to receive an honorary degree

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PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island - When the Rhode Island School of Design offered iconic filmmaker John Waters an honorary degree, he was surprised. After all, he got thrown out of every school he ever went to.

Known for quirky films that push the boundaries of good taste, including 1972’s outrageous cult classic “Pink Flamingos,’’ Waters is the keynote speaker at the prestigious art school’s commencement next weekend.

Waters will also receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree; recipients are chosen by the RISD community, and nominations are reviewed by a committee of students, faculty and staff.

“I don’t even know if I got a high school diploma. It’s very peculiar. I feel very flattered,’’ said Waters, who attended New York University briefly in the 1960s before getting kicked out for smoking marijuana on campus. “I feel like the scarecrow in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ when they give him a brain.’’

RISD’s 2015 Honorary Degree Committee cited Waters’ body of films as an “enduring inspiration for RISD students seeking to break boundaries, challenge conventions, and define an expressive style,’’ said RISD President Rosanne Somerson.

“In the words of one nominator, he ‘embodies the RISD ’tude galore’,’’ Somerson said.


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