Education

This Taxpayer-Funded University Will Pay Matthew McConaughey $135,000 To Give A Commencement Speech

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Officials at the University of Houston admitted this week that Matthew McConaughey will receive $135,000 to speak at the taxpayer-funded school’s May commencement.

Hilariously citing a confidentiality agreement with a celebrity booking agency, officials at the public school tried for several weeks to hide the steep six-figure amount they had agreed to pay the movie star, Inside Higher Ed reports.

However, administrators eventually succumbed to pressure from the Houston Chronicle and other local press outlets to make the hefty payment details public.

In addition to paying McConaughey $135,000, the University of Houston will pay his travel expenses and fork over a 15 percent commission fee to Celebrity Talent International, according to Hollywood.com.

Celebrity Talent International represents a broad array of celebrities looking to make a buck including Nancy Grace, the TV talking head; A Flock Of Seagulls, the ’80s New Wave band; Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the rap duo; Barney Frank, the Democratic congressman; and Tom Cochrane, that guy who sang “Life Is A Highway.”

Interestingly, a profile for McConaughey “is no longer available” on the Celebrity Talent International website. “Our apologies,” the site says.

The actor has said he plans to donate the $135,000 fee from the public school to his own foundation, the Just Keep Living Foundation, which brings after-school fitness programs to urban high schools.

McConaughey, an alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin, is worth about $75 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

He has appeared in a number of movies including “Dazed and Confused,” “The Wedding Planner,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Killer Joe” — which features a disturbing finale involving Gina Gershon, a Kentucky Fried Chicken drumstick and simulated oral sex.

“He may occasionally prowl the sidelines during a certain university’s football games in Austin, but the University of Houston ‘hooked’ him,” a University of Houston statement bragged proudly when McConaughey’s impending commencement speech was first announced.

“It’s the kind of star power that adds muscle to the University of Houston’s bold reputation campaign, ‘Welcome to the Powerhouse,'” the statement said.

Inside Higher Ed notes that, while many luminaries take honorary degrees and a reimbursement for travel expenses to speak at public schools commencements, others are happily willing to take a heap of public cash.

For example, Katie Couric accepted $110,000 to give the commencement address at the University of Oklahoma in 2006.

In May, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice abruptly withdrew from speaking at Rutgers University’s commencement address amid protests at her selection from faculty and students and denouncements of her as a “war criminal.” She forewent a $35,000 fee. (RELATED: Awful School Is Awfully Intolerant: Condi Rice Backs Out Of Rutgers Speech Amid Protests)

Of course, regardless of the amount of money schools pay or who utters them, most commencement speeches are just long and boring. (RELATED: The Daily Caller’s GINORMOUS List Grading College Commencement Speakers)

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