University of Florida awards honorary degree to Gainesville native Tom Petty

University of Florida awards honorary degree to Gainesville native Tom Petty

The University of Florida Thursday bestowed an honorary Doctor of Music degree on the late Tom Petty, a Florida native.

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May 4 (UPI) — Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Tom Petty now has a posthumous honorary degree from the University of Florida.

The university Thursday bestowed the Doctor of Music degree on Petty, a Florida native who was born and raised in Gainesville, where the university’s campus is located.

The school posted a short tribute to Petty social media Thursday.

Petty died Oct. 2, 2017, at the age of 66. He was found in cardiac arrest at the home of his manager, and a coroner later ruled the cause of death as organ failure from cardiac arrest as a result of “mixed drug toxicity.”

The school first voted unanimously in 2021 to give the rock legend the honorary degree.

Petty never attended the university as a student but did work there for a time as a groundskeeper on the campus.

“The University of Florida is privileged to recognize Tom Petty for his achievements as a rock star, a beacon of creative freedom, and an advocate for his fellow artists for those most in need, and for our Gators,” University of Florida President Ben Sasse, who conferred the degree, told assembly Thursday.

Petty’s family also made a $100,000 donation to establish an endowment fund for guitars and innovation.

The school celebrated its first-ever Tom Petty Day last year.

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