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Elder President Bush, Aretha Franklin receive honorary degrees at 363rd Harvard commencement

Harvard University President Drew Faust, left, speaks with former President George H. W. Bush, right, before Harvard commencement ceremonies, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Cambridge, Mass. Bush was presented with with an honorary doctor of laws degree during the ceremonies. Chilean author Isabel Allende, top left, and singer Aretha Franklin, behind center left, look on. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

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Harvard University President Drew Faust, left, speaks with former President George H. W. Bush, right, before Harvard commencement ceremonies, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Cambridge, Mass. Bush was presented with with an honorary doctor of laws degree during the ceremonies. Chilean author Isabel Allende, top left, and singer Aretha Franklin, behind center left, look on. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - A former president and the Queen of Soul have received honorary degrees from Harvard University.

George H.W. Bush, Aretha Franklin, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and five others were honoured at Thursday's commencement.

Harvard President Drew Faust poked fun at the 89-year-old Bush's Yale University credentials, saying his "cap was blue, his house was white and now his robe is crimson."

Bush smiled and gestured to the crowd as he received the doctor of laws degree but didn't stand.

The 72-year-old Franklin accompanied herself on piano to perform the national anthem. She received an honorary doctor of arts.

Bloomberg criticized intolerance in his commencement speech. He urged graduates to stand up for free expression, saying "our nation will be stronger for it."

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