Rosanne Cash to receive honorary doctorate from Arkansas State University

by George Jared ([email protected]) 327 views 

Multi-time Grammy award winner Rosanne Cash will receive an honorary doctoral degree during Arkansas State University’s spring commencement ceremony on Saturday (May 7). The ASU Board of Trustees voted in March 2020 to award the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, but the presentation was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cash, the daughter of Hall of Fame musician Johnny Cash, has 15 albums that have earned four Grammy Awards and 11 additional nominations. She has authored four books, including the best-selling memoir, Composed, and has written numerous essays in national publications. The Chicago Tribune called the memoir “one of the best accounts of an American life you’ll likely ever read.”

A performer who tours around the world, she has partnered in programming or served as an artist-in-residence at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, San Francisco Jazz, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Library of Congress.

Cash was awarded the SAG/AFTRA Lifetime Achievement for Sound Recordings in 2012 and the 2014 Smithsonian Ingenuity Award in the Performing Arts. In 2015, she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2019, she was a key contributor to Ken Burns’ multi-episode documentary, Country Music. She received the 2021 Edward MacDowell Medal, awarded since 1960 to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to American culture. She is the first female composer to receive this prestigious honor.

A long-time supporter of Arkansas State University’s Heritage Sites, Cash is one of the family founders of the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival, and a founder of the Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home. Her philanthropic work has provided support for the heritage site, which celebrates the work of the New Deal program that created resettlement colonies across America during the Great Depression, as well as documents the formative years of her father and his family.

Her involvement helped to secure the donation of key artifacts from the New Deal era, restoration of the Dyess Colony circle, and the Boyhood Home as a museum to the life and times of the farmers of the era. She has continued her commitment to the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival, which includes academic sessions tied to the history, music, culture and social impact of both her father and of the colony project.

Cash becomes the 19th recipient of an honorary doctorate awarded by Arkansas State in a tradition that dates back to May 14, 1934, when U.S. Sen. Hattie Caraway became the first. Prospective candidates for the degree are reviewed by the Honorary Doctorate Committee, which makes recommendations to the chancellor regarding award of the degree. The chancellor may forward this recommendation to the president and Board of Trustees. Honorary doctorates are awarded only with approval of the Board of Trustees.

Previous recipients of honorary doctoral degrees at Arkansas State are:

U.S. Sen. Hattie Caraway — May 14, 1934
Gov. Carl E. Bailey — May 16, 1938
Victor C. Kays — May 25, 1956
John A. Cooper — May 14, 1982
R. E. Lee Wilson IV — May 14, 1982
Herbert H. McAdams — May 11, 1984
Ben Owens — May 10, 1991
Sheikh Hamad I. Al-Rashudi — May 8, 1992
John W. Troutt Jr. — May 8, 1992
Paul W. Klipsch — May 12, 1995
Townsend Wolfe — May 10, 2002
C. Calvin Smith — May 6, 2005
Gov. Mike Beebe — May 5, 2007
Charlotte V. Beck — May 9, 2009
U.S. Rep. Marion Berry — May 8, 2010
Albert Austin “Sonny” Burgess — May 7, 2011
Robert M. “Bob” Wood — Dec. 10, 2016
Neil Griffin — May 12, 2018