Halle Berry was awarded Harvard University's Hasty Pudding award on Thursday (16FEB06) - with Richard Gere is to be awarded the male equivalent next week (24FEB06).

The gongs, which went to Catherine Zeta-Jones and Tim Robbins last year (05), are awarded by Hasty Pudding Theatricals, America's oldest undergraduate theatre company, at their Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus.

Berry insists she takes the honour "very seriously - it's going to go right next to my Oscar".

Harvard student PETER DODD gushes, "She's just such a good role model for anyone interested in the arts, and she's just so fun."