Fredericton — After more than three decades, St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B., is now begging a Saint John man to pick up the diploma that he failed to claim when he graduated from the bachelor of arts program.
“It’s not worth the paper it’s printed on,” claimed Arthur Keller in an interview with The Manatee. “I’m 53 years old and I haven’t used my degree yet. I doubt it’ll come in handy before I kick the bucket. So why can’t they just throw it in the trash?”
The university maintains that it would “send the wrong message” to current students if the institution were to put past grads’ degrees in the garbage.
“It’s embarrassing, simply put,” said President Dawn Russell. “If we want our students to value the education acquired here, we can’t have some old Saint Johner bragging to the media about how little he cares about his diploma and saying it hasn’t helped him in adult life. That’s something students should have to figure out on their own when they go out into the world!
“We actually have a ton of unclaimed diplomas here,” Russell added, “but this is the only one that’s been kicking around for this long. We’d mail it to him but we can’t afford the postage after our last round of solicitation letters went out a couple months ago.”
Any STU grad knows these letters well — each year it’s mailed to alumni asking for donations. But, precisely because they’re STU grads, they cannot afford to financially support their alma mater. In this year’s batch of letters, Keller’s mail contained an additional request.
“Oh, I always get that damned thing asking for money I don’t have, and frankly I think they should be paying me back for the four years I spent soaking up useless knowledge and getting fat,” he said. “Anyway, now they’re also demanding I drive all the way to Freddy Beach to grab the damned diploma! What am I gonna do — frame it and put it up in the garage? My buddies would just love that! I’d never hear the end of it.”
Keller was absent from his graduation ceremony many years ago, and said he only went into the arts program to “meet girls.” In subsequent years he worked in a grocery store warehouse, as a cashier at McDonald’s, as a shelf-stocker at Costco, and held an array of other jobs largely populated by his former university classmates.
St. Thomas University has offered to hold a special “symbolic” ceremony for Keller to entice him to come accept his diploma, but Keller refuses to go.
“They’re holding the ceremony at 8:30 a.m. on a Friday. No way I’m going to that. I skipped all those morning classes while I was a student, and I’m definitely not going to them now. What does it symbolize — a hangover?!”