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Bill Cosby to Deliver Keynote Address at 57th Annual Spring Commencement (April 23, 2004) -- Wilkes will present the award-winning actor, writer, comedian, producer and composer with an honorary degree. Award-winning actor, writer, comedian, producer and composer Bill Cosby will serve as keynote speaker at Wilkes University's 57th Annual Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 15, 2004.
Cosby, who refers to his many years of delivering college commencement speeches as, “a hobby,” is one of the most influential performers of the second half of the 20th century. He is the recipient of eight Grammy awards, four Emmy’s, three Golden Globes, 16 People’s Choice awards and an NAACP Image award.
Cosby changed the face of television in 1965 by becoming the first black actor to play the lead role in a television drama series. His portrayal of Alexander Scott in I Spy, won Cosby three Emmy Awards. His television career continued with Bill Cosby Specials from 1968-1971, The Bill Cosby Show from 1969-1971 and The New Bill Cosby Show from 1972-1973.
For twelve years, Cosby was executive producer and host of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, an animated children’s program based on his memories of childhood friends.
Cosby’s most successful show The Cosby Show ran on NBC from 1984 – 1992. The widely popular primetime show portrayed the life of the Huxtable family – a doctor, his lawyer wife and their five children. The sitcom, which was number one in the ratings for four consecutive seasons and remained in the top 20 until it’s finale in 1992, resurrected NBC’s ratings from last to first. The Cosby Show has been described as pivotal in its positive portrayal of black family life.
After the show’s syndication, Cosby received a reported $333 million and, along with his wife of now 40 years, Camille, became an active philanthropist. In 1988, the Cosbys donated $20 million to Spelman College in Atlanta, the largest contribution ever to a black college. After the murder of Cosby’s only son Ennis in 1997, the Cosby family created the Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation, a charitable organization that promotes the early detection and treatment of dyslexia, a condition that Ennis battled.
Cosby’s television entertainment career also includes The Cosby Mysteries, Cosby and Little Bill, the animated show that received an Image Award and was nominated for a daytime Emmy.
Cosby is also the author of many books including Fatherhood, Time Flies, Childhood and Congratulations! Now What?: A Book for Graduates.
In 1994, Cosby was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences TV Hall of Fame and was later among five performers who were saluted at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C.
Cosby earned a Masters Degree in Education (M. Ed.) in 1972 and his Doctorate in Education (Ed. D.) in 1977 from the University of Massachusetts. His doctoral thesis was titled, "The Integration of Visual Media Via Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Into the Elementary Schools Culminating as a Teacher Aid to Achieve Increased Learning."