Early this morning, two of the unlikeliest graduates ever to cross the stage, in either a literal or figurative sense, will accept academic accolades at CSU Bakersfield.

Country music stars Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, neither of whom progressed far in school, let alone crossed the threshold of higher learning, will receive the institution's acknowledgement of their artistic and cultural achievements alongside the 2013 graduating class of CSUB's School of Arts and Humanities.

Haggard will walk in with "his" graduating class at 6:45 a.m., but his diploma will be an honorary doctorate -- and the first doctor of fine arts in school history. Owens, who died in 2006, will be honored with a posthumous President's Medal. His son Buddy Alan Owens will accept the medal on his behalf.

Sometimes, great achievement in the soft sciences of human expression surpass anything traditional learning can imbue. The lives of Haggard and Owens embody that. Our mortarboards are off to CSUB for having recognized the importance of addressing that fact.