Pharrell Williams is adding a little happiness to Yankee Stadium this May — NYU announced today that he will speak at the all-university graduation ceremony on May 17. This 11-time Grammy winner was an artist-in-residence last year at Tisch, and a video of him and recent alum Maggie Rogers went viral as he reacted in shock to her music.
In addition to addressing the crowd, Williams will be granted a Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa, and according to the announcement, he is one of seven people receiving honorary degrees: physician Thomas R. Friedan, chemistry Nobel prize-winner Jean-Marie Pierre Lehn, first Democratic woman senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Arizona politician Gabrielle Giffords, retired astronaut Mark Kelly and Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University Melissa V. Harris-Perry.
NYU Spokesperson John Beckman said that NYU selects its honorary degree recipients from fields such as academia, the arts and public life and that the university bases the decision off these people’s achievements and the examples they provide to students.
“We’re exceptionally proud of our graduates,” Beckman said, “and proud to assemble such a distinguished group of honorees to stand with them and receive degrees of their own at NYU’s 185th Commencement.”
He also said that the university is confident its graduates will also reach accomplishments of such heights in their own lives after NYU. Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Marc Wais said that he believes students will be very excited to have Pharrell as our commencement speaker.
“I am confident he will provide a thoughtful, engaging, and inspirational speech that will rock the house!” Wais said in an email.
But in addition to Williams’ achievements in music, this Virginia native also runs his own company called From One Hand to Another, which aims to empower and help young people who are identified as at-risk, as described on his website. It also said that Williams decided to start the company after he began touring the world and realized how much there was to see — he wanted to give other students that opportunity as well.
The all-university commencement starts at 11 a.m. and will conclude at 1 p.m.
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