The Dolly Parton honorary doctorate is from the University of Tennessee. See photos and video here of the country music legend receiving the degree of Doctor of Humane and Musical Letters and performing her song, ‘Try’ and delivering a commencement address to the UT-Knoxville class of 2009.
In his speech, University of Tennessee Knoxville chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek outlined the many accomplishments of the entertainer, business entrepreneur and philanthropist Dolly Parton has made in education advocacy.
Parton’s foundation, Imagination Library began in 1996 donating books to children in East Tennessee’s Sevier County in the poverty stricken Appalachia region before they enter school. Dolly Parton herself grew up in in poverty in Sevier Country where she was one of 12 siblings. The program has now expanded to 1,000 communities in 46 states, Canada and the UK and distributes more than 5 million books a year.
Prior to that, chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek noted that Dolly Parton began her education advocacy with the 1988 Dollywood Foundation which provided literacy and educational opportunities in Servier County. In 1992-1993 she began the Buddy Project in which participating Sevier County middle school students selected a buddy each other accountable to studying. She promised a $500 check with no strings attached to graduating high school students. The dropout rate then dropped from 30 percent to 6 percent.
Parton now has two honorary PhD degrees; her previous one is from Carson-Newman College which similarly honored her commitment to education advocacy.
The Dolly Parton honorary degree from UT-Knoxville is only the second the university has ever awarded; the previous recipient was former U.S. Senator Howard H. Baker Jr. who received a doctorate of humane letters in 2005.
Dolly Parton who famously jokes about being buxom is quoted as saying:
“Just think, I am Dr. Dolly!” So when people say something about ‘Double-D,’ they will be thinking of something entirely different.”
In dispensing career advice during her commencement address she again again offered some moments of levity.
“What has worked for me, may not work for you. Take for instance, what has worked for me? Wigs, tight clothes, push-up bras, high heel shoes?five inch high heel shoes. All I’ve got to say is, take my advice and some of you boys out there may find yourself on a little different career path.”
The Dolly Parton honorary doctorate caps off a rewarding week for the country music legend whose Broadway production of 9 to 5: The Musical has received four Tony Award nominations, including Parton’s nomination for best original score (music and/or lyrics).
More Dolly Parton photos and a video of Dolly Parton honorary doctorate ceremony and commencement speech are below.