Nobel Prize-winning poet Toni Morrison (Getty Images)

Rutgers University is breaking with tradition by paying its 2011 commencement speaker for the first time in the history of the university. The Associated Press is reporting that Nobel Prize-winning poet Toni Morrison will be paid $30,000 to deliver the main address at the university's commencement in May.

Traditionally, schools have offered honorary degrees to commencement speakers instead of cash. Rutgers spokesman Ken Branson told the Record newspaper that neither state funds nor tuition money will pay the fee. He could not say whether the money was coming from a private donation.

Who cares? There's nothing wrong with getting paid and receiving an honorary degree. Schools do it all the time — they just do it quietly. Toni Morrison is one of the most celebrated poets of our time, so in our minds, she's worth every penny. Sometimes you have to pay to play. Rutgers clearly knows this.


In other news: Michelle Obama to Speak at Spelman's Commencement.

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