Robert Loggia, William Trogdon give advice to MU honors students

Saturday, December 17, 2011 | 4:47 p.m. CST; updated 9:06 p.m. CST, Sunday, December 18, 2011
William Trogdon, who writes under the pen name William Least Heat-Moon, addresses the audience Saturday at Jesse Hall after receiving an honorary doctor of letters degree at the MU Honors Commencement ceremony.

COLUMBIA — Two men who received their honorary doctorates, the highest award given by MU, spoke to more than 200 honors students Saturday.

As the Honors Commencement ceremony began, actor Robert Loggia and writer William Trogdon, both graduates of MU, took their seats beside Chancellor Brady Deaton.


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The two honorary degree recipients spoke to the graduates about their dreams, their futures and their responsibilities as a generation.

Loggia, who received his honorary doctor of fine arts, took the lectern first.

“Be true to your heart and true to your dreams, and all the rest will follow,” he said.

Loggia studied journalism at MU and graduated in 1951. After serving in the Army, Loggia began his acting career. He has appeared in supporting roles in television series such as "The Sopranos” and films such as “Scarface” and “Independence Day.” Loggia has been nominated for several Emmy Awards and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film “Jagged Edge."

Trogdon received his honorary doctor of letters and literature and then delivered his speech, which he described as having three main points.

First, he told the graduates that the only way to solve their problems was to first solve the problem of population growth, something he felt his generation had failed at.

Next, he suggested the students think about the word “otherness.” He told them to ask themselves, “How do I, the self, the individual, relate to everything else?”

Finally, he explained the need to understand the difference between information and books, because “one is very useful, and the other one is great sustenance.”

Trogdon, who writes under the pen name William Least Heat-Moon, has received four degrees from MU: two bachelor’s degrees, one in photojournalism and one in English, a master's degree in English and a doctorate in English. Trogdon has written several books that chronicle his travels, one of which, "Blue Highways," was on The New York Times Best Seller list for 34 weeks in 1982-83.

Some students said the speeches inspired them.

“The speakers left me wanting to drive forward,” said Brent Fitzwalter, who graduated magna cum laude in biochemistry. “What I took with me was the part about keeping an eye on your dreams and everything will fall after.”

Following the speakers, students were called to accept their bronze honor medallions. The medal, which is cast with the image of the MU Columns, is one of the highest honors bestowed on MU graduates.

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Thomas Dillingham December 18, 2011 | 8:55 p.m.

William Least Heat Moon (William Trogdon) is a brilliant writer of nonfiction--memoir, geographic profile, history. To my knowledge, he has never published a novel. This is the second time in a few weeks that apparently very innocent writers have referred to his "novels," suggesting that the J-school needs to do some remedial teaching.

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