Burt Reynolds Gets the First Degree—an Honorary One
The campus love-in was warmed by Burt's donation last September of $600,000 to the theater department, though the school had voted to give Reynolds the degree even before his gift. The state added a $400,000 sweetener, resulting in what the dean of the department, Richard G. Fallon, terms "the richest and most eminent theater chair in the U.S."
Reynolds' involvement doesn't stop with his tax exemption. Two years ago he set up a foundation that offers students FSU college credit for on-the-job training at his $2 million dinner theater in Jupiter, Fla. Burt also teaches some workshops at the Tallahassee campus. While serving the school and between movies, he is based in a luxurious Spanish-style villa close by his theater.
Reynolds was visibly humbled by the honor, previously conferred on legendary acting colleagues like Lee Strasberg and Helen Hayes. But for this son of a small-town Florida police chief, the recognition struck closer to home. "I always felt this was the place I could come back to," said Burt. "I will always love this university and try to make it proud of me."