I'm not unhappy with Rossi's new (honorary) academic status. There's no denying he's a good role model, and he's probably no slouch in the disciplines for which he was recognized, which I believe were marketing communications and promotion.
That said, I would not have placed a sponsor logo on my graduation cap. I will forgive this transgression when they announce the new Michelin/Rossi scholarship fund.
Wait a second. How can paperpushers complain that giving an honorary degree to Rossi is going to "devalue" honorary degrees? I mean, they hand them out like candy to freaking politicians don't they? Didn't freaking Bush and freaking Clinton get them? Other idiots even gave a freaking Peace Prize to freaking Arafat didn't they? Or how about that other stupid honorary title, Time's Man of the Year? They gave that one to Hitler fer crissakes!
No need to worry about devaluing honoraria... it's too freaking late.
I begin by saying that: a) I am an Italian academic (except that I am also a naturalized US citizen) and b) I have no problem with the degree to Rossi, since I am a big fan. Still, I have to say that in Italy honorary degrees are not given out with the same frequency as in the US. There is no commencement there, and therefore you don't get 4-5 honorary doctorates from each university every year. Historically, in Italy these honorary degrees have been given out in recognition of outstanding lifetime achievements, which sounds a bit funny when the recipient is 24 years old. In that sense, there is no question that the degree to Rossi is not in line with the usual honorary degrees given out there. Here in the US all you need is to be either famous or a major donor to the university and you get a degree (or two, or three). I was talking to a famous person at my university's commencement and he said he had 22 honorary doctorates (he was getting his 23rd). Deserving guy, but I could not help thinking that handing them out like candy sort of cheapens the whole deal. Just my two cents.
"...They have one thing you haven't got: a diploma. Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitartus Committiartum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of ThD."