Honorand Citation: Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro

Presented by J. Michael Chu ’80, Board of Trustees

President Cable, I am honored to present my good friend, Robert De Niro.

Of course, Bob is much honored, widely known and deeply appreciated for his work in film — as an Academy Award-winning actor, as a director celebrated for A Bronx Tale and The Good Shepherd, and as an executive producer through his own company, Tribeca Productions.

From Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver to Jake La Motta in Raging Bull to Michael Vronsky in The Deer Hunter, among so many others, Bob has created characters both painfully individual and universally resonant. And you could say that the genius of his acting resides in that integration of seeming opposites. Rigorously trained by Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, and known for going to extremes in preparing for a part, Bob nevertheless advises aspiring actors to ultimately trust their instincts. “If you don’t take that risk,” he has said, “you’re probably not going to make an impression.”

That’s a fitting lesson on this particular day.

Another lesson is the importance of tending to your roots. An actor and filmmaker from and of New York City, Bob is especially proud of his role in nurturing New York film through not only Tribeca Productions and the Tribeca Film Center, but the Tribeca Film Festival, founded to support Lower Manhattan after September 11.

At crucial points in the creation of a character or a film idea, when too much analysis has threatened to stifle the vital spark of inspiration, Bob has been known to say, “Don’t talk it away.” I’ll now take that invaluable advice and simply, but with great pleasure, present Robert De Niro for the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.

Conferral by Interim President Nancy Cable

Robert De Niro, your work has not only reflected our own humanity to us in new and provocative ways, but has inspired and empowered countless others to keep the art of film sharp-eyed and eloquent in its storytelling. Therefore, by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees, I hereby confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities which here and everywhere pertain to this degree.