Conservative radio and TV host Glenn Beck received an honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree from Liberty University on Saturday just moments before he was to deliver a keynote address to the school's graduating class.
The bestowing of the degree by Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., "kinda wreck[ed]" the opening remarks of the surprised and notably moved Beck, who had gone to college for only one semester.
"I couldn't afford more than that," a tearful Beck told the graduating class as he tried to keep his composure. "I am humbly honored."
Though Beck is a devout Mormon, Liberty leaders decided to tap the popular conservative to speak at Saturday's commencement ceremony because of his "positive impact on society" – a move that Beck thanked the evangelical school and its chancellor for.
"I understand the courage that it took to invite me to speak for a myriad of reasons – my faith just being one of them," Beck said. "And I want you to know that I understand that the invitation to speak today is not meant as an endorsement of my faith. But I also want you to understand that my agreeing to speak here today is an endorsement of your faith."
Beck went on to speak for about 20 minutes, preaching on the story of Moses, urging graduates to "turn to God and live," and sharing excerpts from his journal that he had intended to tell his daughter.
"As long as we have today, we can change the world," shared Beck, who became emotional several times as he spoke.
"Marry for love, marry for laughs, but mostly importantly – as my wife Tania taught me – marry for God. Without God, life's storms are too strong to withstand," he added with tears.
Also speaking Saturday was Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson, who was the keynote speaker at Friday's baccalaureate service.
According to Liberty University, about 4,400 students walked in Saturday's ceremony – a significant jump from last year when 2,300 graduates were present.
In total, 8,650 students graduated this year from Liberty – the school's largest-ever graduating class.
Founded in 1971 by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr., Liberty University touts itself as the largest and fastest growing Christian Evangelical university in the world as well as the largest private university in Virginia.
This year, Liberty moved well past the enrollment mark of 50,000 that its late founder had envisioned nearly 25 years ago. The Lynchburg, Va.-based school presently has nearly 12,000 residential students and more than 45,000 online students.