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'Big Bird' Ruffles Some Feathers

Villanova University seniors, who spent up to $112,000 on tuition in their four years, are underwhelmed by news the actor who plays Big Bird will be this year's commencement speaker.

Caroll Spinney, who has portrayed the tall yellow-feathered bird for more than 30 years on "Sesame Street," will address the class on May 16.

"Everyone I've talked to says it's crazy," said senior Joe Mordini, a columnist for the Villanovan, the student newspaper.

"I also think there are other people who also embody truth and loyalty and love and other values of the university without also being iconic to the pre- school class," Mordini said.

Spinney, who published a book last year called "The Wisdom of Big Bird," has a positive message for students — and won't show up in costume — school officials say.

Spinney, who will receive an honorary degree, was chosen by a committee that includes the student government president, said spokeswoman Barbara Clement.

The Rev. Edmund Dobbin, university president, called Spinney a "world-class educator."