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Now that’s what I call an Honorary Graduate §4

Universities have been generously handing out honorary degrees again. And there are some pretty unusual recipients.
This article is more than 5 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

More awards for the great and the good (and for the holy)

In the last instalment of Now that’s… we celebrated the award of an Honorary Degree to Kanye West who was typically modest in his acceptance:

I am a pop artist so my medium is public opinion and the world is my campus

Since then there have been many more awards to other musical talents to cheer:

James Blunt having originally graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in Sociology popped back to collect an Honorary Doctorate in Music.
Real gone kid Ricky Ross picked up a degree at the University of the West of Scotland.

Dr Ross I presume?
Dr Ross I presume?

Multi-talented and often controversial Henry Rollins collected an Honorary from Woodbury University and took the opportunity to advise a receptive audience on the value of education:

Pardon me if this seems somewhat naïve, but my belief in this is unshakable. Educated people make the world a better place. They make it safer. They make systems run more efficiently. They make resources more sustainable. They mercilessly attack misery and cruelty, and eventually they win. There is only one part of your body that will truly evolve – your mind. Through pursuing higher education, this is what you have prioritized, and I cannot thank you enough.

Big haired rocker Jon Bon Jovi was awarded a degree recently at Rutgers University-Camden. And to show his gratitude he wrote them a song:

During the event, BON JOVI debuted and performed a new song, “Reunion,” that he wrote specifically for the Class of 2015. In his comments, BON JOVI advised the new graduates: “Life is a long, bumpy road, but that makes for an exciting ride. Choose a direction and if the road turns — turn!  If there is a fork in the road — take it!  It’s okay to map out your future … but do it in pencil.”

At the more sedate end of the musical spectrum Julio Iglesias was awarded an Honorary by Berklee College of Music. The kids would be more impressed Ed-Sheeran-gets-honorary-degree-mainthough by Ed Sheeran who was awarded an honorary doctorate by University Campus Suffolk last year. The degree was awarded:

for his “outstanding contribution to music” since leaving school aged 16 – but has now claimed degrees ‘aren’t essential’.

The star said young people faced “a lot of pressure” to go to university to achieve degrees they may not need, as he received his own from University Campus Suffolk (UCS).

The 24-year-old singer-songwriter said he encouraged young people who were uncertain about higher education to “chill” because many university leavers were in debt with unwanted degrees.

Not exactly the message you’d be hoping for from your honorary graduate.

Moving away from music the UN General Secretary brought some gravitas to matters when he was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Cambridge. News too that George R R Martin, creator of the massively popular Game of Thrones, is to be awarded and Honorary Degree by Texas A & M University. He is though just too busy to collect it at the moment.

WoofThe Duchess of Cornwall meanwhile picked up a degree from Southampton University for her work on Osteoporosis.

More unusually there is the award of an Honorary Degree to a student’s support dog, Kirsch, by Johns Hopkins University. There aren’t many animals who have collected such honours. Aww.

In slightly lighter vein comedian Jo Brand collected a degree from Birmingham City University and a ‘Scooter Gran’ was awarded a degree from Kingston University for her community work.

Finally, and most unusually, a Taiwanese university awarded a degree to a Taoist god.

Taoist deity Shennong (神農大帝, God of Agriculture) was yesterday conferred with a distinguished honorary doctorate by the Chiayi County-based National Chung Cheng University in a gesture of gratitude for a local temple’s donation of land during the university’s founding.

Shennong was the first deity to receive a diploma from a Taiwanese university and possibly the world’s only divine being with a doctorate, university president Wu Jyh-yang (吳志揚) said.

Now that’s what I call an honorary degree.

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