Tom Petty to Receive Honorary Doctorate of Music from the University of Florida

May 3, 2023
Tom Petty to Receive Honorary Doctorate of Music from the University of Florida

Photo Credit: Marc Millman

Tomorrow, May 4, rock legend and Sunshine State native Tom Petty will be recognized by the University of Florida with an honorary Doctor of Music degree. The late musician’s brother, Bruce Petty, will accept the award during the college’s spring commencement ceremony. 

“I don’t think anyone in our family, including him, thought that he would be linked with the University of Florida this way,” offered Bruce Petty via press release. “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.”

The posthumous accolade arrives alongside news that the university, in partnership with Petty’s estate, will launch The Tom Petty Endowment for Guitars & Innovation to support the next generation of artists in the School of Music’s Guitar and new Music Business and Entrepreneurship programs. 

University of Florida School of Music director Kevin Orr, stated, “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.”

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.”

Additionally, 300 special limited edition commemorative posters of Shepard Fairey’s An American Treasure artwork have been released today via the Tom Petty store. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the new Tom Petty Endowment for Guitars & Innovation.

Donations to the endowment can be made here to continue Petty’s spirit of mentorship.