Tom Petty to Receive Posthumous Doctorate Degree

Tom Petty will soon become a doctor. The late rock legend is set to receive a posthumous Doctor of Music degree from the University of Florida (UF) in his hometown of Gainesville, Florida on May 4. Bruce Petty, Tom’s brother, will accept the posthumous degree on his behalf during the spring commencement ceremony at the university.

Videos by American Songwriter

The honor is a distinction Petty, who died in 2017 at the age of 66, always dreamed of receiving throughout his lifetime.

“I don’t think anyone in our family, including him, thought that he would be linked with the University of Florida this way,” said Bruce Petty in a statement. “It’s such a powerful thing. It was his life-long dream, and I know he would just be over-the-top, crazy happy about it.”

In commemoration of the degree, the university and Petty’s estate have also collaborated to launch Tom Petty Endowment for Guitars & Innovation, which will support the next generation of artists studying at the UF School of Music’s Guitar and the new Music Business & Entrepreneurship programs at the university.

Tom Petty ‘An American Treasure’ Art by Shepard Fairey (Courtesy of Sacks & Co.)

To help kick off the foundation, the Petty estate has also donated $100,000 in his memory. Additionally, 300 special limited edition commemorative posters of artist Shepard Fairey’s An American Treasure artwork, used for Petty’s 2018 compilation album of the same name, were released exclusively on the Tom Petty store. A portion of the proceeds of the sales will also go to the Tom Petty Endowment for Guitars & Innovation.

The Cade Museum in Gainesville has also partnered with the UF School of Music to celebrate the conferral of Petty’s degree and will host a viewing of 2021 documentary, Tom Petty: Somewhere You Feel Free, which features never-before-seen footage, new interviews, and an inside look into the making of Petty’s second album Wildflowers, released in 1994. The event will also feature director Mary Wharton, who will be part of a special Q&A.

“We in the UF School of Music and College of the Arts are privileged to honor Tom Petty with an honorary doctorate degree in Music, celebrating not only his extraordinary achievements as an artist but the ways in which his music has and continues to unite us as a community,” said Kevin Orr, director of the University of Florida School of Music.

Orr continued, “Tom Petty’s tireless defense of the rights of performing artists, and his compassionate advocacy for the wellbeing of his neighbors in every community where he lived, are embodied by the students and faculty of the UF School of Music: commitment to one’s artistic passions, even in the face of challenges; the safeguarding of creative work to ensure unique and lasting impact; and indeed, the power of music to advance causes for the greater good in society.”

Photo: Gary Gershoff / Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Jon Bon Jovi Reacts to Son’s Engagement to Millie Bobby Brown