Retired Stevens professor: Frank Sinatra’s honorary degree drew some controversy

HOBOKEN – A rare photo has surfaced showing Frank Sinatra, who would have turned 100 on Saturday, Dec. 12, and the Ushers at Stevens Institute of Technology’s graduation ceremony in May 1985. At that ceremony the hometown warbler received an honorary degree.
Sinatra accompanied President Ronald Reagan to the mile square city in July 1984, landing by helicopter on the Stevens athletic field, and retired Stevens Professor of History and Social Sciences Silvio Laccetti believes it was then that interest started to build to award him an honorary degree.
Laccetti recalls the day as somewhat controversial.
“Stevens ran into some opposition concerning the Honorary Ph.D. granted to Sinatra,” Laccetti told The Hoboken Reporter. “A small group of students, fueled by some stories in the media, did send a letter to the campus newspaper in protest, but the graduating class, the faculty and the general Stevens community fully supported the award to Sinatra.”
Lacetti’s recollection might come as no surprise to Hoboken residents though, who have long known of Sinatra’s ambivalent relationship with his hometown.
Laccetti says the evening following the graduating ceremony Sinatra received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan.
And by that time, the city could be nothing but proud.

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