Kanye West Receives Honorary Doctorate From School of the Art Institute of Chicago | NBC Chicago

Kanye West Receives Honorary Doctorate From School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The school says West "often provokes cultural discourse" and is an "advocate for education, and a thinker and maker."

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Kanye West accepts his honorary doctorate degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. (Published Monday, May 11, 2015)

    Rap's infamous college dropout finally got his degree.

    Kanye West received an honorary doctorate degree Monday from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

    “This honor is going to make your lives easier,” West said in the opening statements of his acceptance speech. “Two reasons: You don’t have to defend me as much … And, I’m going to make all of our lives easier.”

    The rapper and Chicago-area native continued by adding the honor was needed to prove "what I've been saying my entire life."

    Kanye West Accepts Honorary Doctorate from School of the Art Institute of Chicago

    [CHI] Kanye West Accepts Honorary Doctorate from School of the Art Institute of Chicago
    Kanye West received an honorary doctorate degree Monday from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. NBC Chicago's Katie Kim reports. (Published Monday, May 11, 2015)

    "When I was giving a lecture at Oxford I brought up this school because when I went on a mission to create in other spaces – apparel, film, performance – it would have been easier if I could have said I had a degree at the Art Institute of Chicago," West said.

    West briefly attended the American Academy of Art and Chicago State University – where his mother served as a professor – before dropping out to pursue music at age 20.

    He has since released six solo albums, which include the school-themed titles of "The College Dropout," "Late Registration" and "Graduation."

    West’s upcoming album "So Help Me God" is due for release this summer. 

    His mega-star wife, Kim Kardashian, took to Twitter soon after his acceptance to boast about her hubby's new title.

    The school's website says West "often provokes cultural discourse" and is an "advocate for education, and a thinker and maker."

    "This is what we're all about at the Art Institute of Chicago," said Lisa Wainwright, dean of faculty and vice president of academic affairs for the school. "Our students have no majors, Kanye has no major. He crosses disciplines, he's from Chicago, he impacts the culture in a profound way. This is a guy who is struggling with the historical moment with issues of race and class and fame and power and sexuality. It's so in accord with what our students are doing."

    Some students, however, were not so pleased with the school's decision. More than 1,500 people signed a Change.org petition to ask the school to not award West the honorary degree.

    "The holder of an honorary doctorate should embody the values of an institution, and elevate the prestige, dignity and character it represents to its student body, alumni and staff," the petition reads. "If SAIC wants to share the honour with a musician, there are an infinite number of more deserving hip hop artists."

    Wainwright said there is bound to be disagreement with the school's decision.

    "Some students felt he wasn't the right person because he's a pop culture icon, but so many other students said we can't be so high falutin, art and design is for everybody," she said. "The convos were tough at times but that's what we like to see. Our classrooms are full of tough conversations."

    Other honorees include Albert Oahlen, a contemporary German artist, Rhona Hoffman, founder of the Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago, Douglas Druick, the President and Director of the Art Institute of Chicago museum, and Janet Byrne Neiman who currently serves as the Vice President of the Board of LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation. 

    “This year’s honorees reveal the school’s considerable influence within the global art and design world but also the strength of our internal community and our integral relationship with our home city, Chicago,” Walter E. Massey, president of SAIC, said in a statement. “In Albert Oehlen, Rhona Hoffman and Kanye West, we are honored to be welcoming three exceptional figures into the SAIC community, while in Douglas Druick and Janet Byrne Neiman, we are proud to be celebrating our roots and what has made the school such a special institution across its nearly 150-year history.”

    News breaks at inconvenient times.  Download one of the NBCChicago mobile apps and have the news come to you. Watch live streaming newscasts, receive critical push notifications on the go and stay in touch with your city around the clock.