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Rogers received Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters at College’s 250th commencement
(Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) On Thursday, February 27, 2003, “Mister Rogers” died at age 74 in his home. Fred Rogers was a friend to Moravian College. Rogers was the recipient of the Comenius Medallion; and the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters was conferred upon him at the Baccalaureate Service in May 1992, during Moravian College’s 250th anniversary year and the 400th birthday anniversary of John Amos Comenius.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Dr. Roger Martin, President of Moravian College (1986 -1997), referred to the similarities between “Fred Rogers, educator, minister, musician, and author, beloved and trusted friend of the nation’s children” to John Amos Comenius who “developed many of his educational theories by drawing analogies of growth from nature, which he regarded as God’s ‘second book’. In an age when learning was stifled by rigid curricula, forced memorization, and brutal discipline, Comenius urged teachers to be guided by the example of the natural world, in which, in his words, ‘everything grows well and blithely, without coercion and with pleasure; nothing being needed but a skilled gardener’. The life and work of Fred Rogers affirm in modern terms the wisdom and truth of Comenius’s ideas about nurturing and educating children."
Two generations of children who have grown up in the gentle, safe, and pleasant learning place known as Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood know how faithfully Fred Rogers has carried out that charge. "Everything we do there,” he has written, “is done to encourage children to feel good about themselves and their world, to enhance their healthy curiosity about that world, and to support in them an optimistic striving toward what they can become."
The Comenius award was presented for Mr. Rogers "exemplification in our time of Comenius’s concern, respect, and love for children and the dedication of his life to their nurture and teaching."