5/19/1978 – ‘University of Maryland (and honorary doctorate) – dinner at Mary’s.’

This brief journal entry captures two facets of Jim’s journey – a lifelong commitment to institutions and organizations that helped him in his professional development and his commitment to his extended family. After Jim graduated from the University of Maryland in 1960, he and his wife Jane (class of 1955) maintained contact with various professors and classmates. Over the years, the Hensons supported the University through the UMD Foundation and Kermit helped raise funds for various activities. Valuing the relationship, students at the University created a campaign to honor Jim, and a statue in his likeness was dedicated in 2003.

In the months leading up to Jim’s honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree presentation at the graduation ceremony, he was active in helping raise funds for a scholarship fund and seeking other ways to support the University. The flurry of activity in the weeks before related to more practical matters – flights (Jim was just wrapping the first group of Season 3 Muppet Shows that week before heading to LA to start on The Muppet Movie), how he wanted his name to appear on the diploma (Jim, not James), and his hat size for the mortar board (his UK assistant Sharon telexed her NY counterpart that, “Jim’s head measures 22 ½” which our wardrobe says is about size 6 7/8.”)

The other arrangements related to Jim’s commitment to his family. Jim was devoted to his parents, stopping to see them on the way to and from various professional commitments, and he made a point of visiting aunts, uncles and cousins around the country. No trip to Washington would be complete without a visit with his relations, and this momentous occasion was no different. To cap off the formal ceremony, Jim and his family had dinner at his cousin Mary’s house.

Learn more about Jim’s strong ties to The University of Maryland.

Jim’s Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from The University of Maryland.

Jim standing by his Rolls Royce, ready for his graduation from The University of Maryland, 1960.

Read more from Jim Henson’s Red Book in Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal available from Chronicle Books.

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