The University of Florida posthumously awarded Tom Petty an honorary PhD in music on Friday. The rock artist was born in Gainesville, Florida, where the university is located.
The university’s board of trustees unanimously voted to honor Petty, who died from an accidental overdose in October 2017. It is not yet known whether there will be a public ceremony to issue the doctoral degree.
“[Petty’s] widely considered among the most distinctive and influential musicians over the past 50 years,” said University provost Joseph Glover. “His presence remains significant as seen by abundant radio airplay and the popularity of events such as the Tom Petty birthday bash held in Gainesville.”
He added, “On the UF campus, Petty’s famous ‘I Won’t Back Down’ has become a mantra at athletic events and I personally have heard President [Kent] Fuchs sing it.”
Petty was the winner of three Grammy awards, UCLA’s Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement, an American Society of Composers award, the Authors and Publishers’ Golden Note Award, Billboard’s Century Award, and UF’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2006.
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