New York University President John Sexton today bestowed an honorary doctorate on award-winning playwright and NYU alumnus John Patrick Shanley at NYU’s 177th Commencement Exercises in Yankee Stadium. Over 25,000 graduates, faculty, staff, and guests attended the morning ceremony.
The following citation was read in conferring the Doctor of Letters degree, honoris causa, on John Patrick Shanley:
“John Patrick Shanley-first and foremost what the Irish call a seanchai - a storyteller, a writer and director of plays and films, you have crafted words that sing on stage and screen across America and around the world. In the preface to your magnificent play Doubt: A Parable, winner of six major awards, including the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize, you wrote: “Life happens when the tectonic power of your speechless soul breaks through the dead habits of the mind.” You are of Irish heritage, a native son of the Bronx and a Marine Corps veteran, whose thirty stage plays and nine screenplays have been spectacular contributions to American storytelling, with such highlights as Danny and the Deep Blue Sea on stage and the now-classic film Moonstruck, which won you an Academy Award. Most recently, the film version of Doubt was nominated for five Academy Awards. For these accomplishments you have been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and have justly received the 2009 Award for Lifetime Achievement in Writing from the Writers Guild of America. The Steinhardt School proudly claims you as a model university citizen - a major contributor to American storytelling and our 1977 valedictory graduate in Dramatic Arts in Educational Theatre.
John Patrick Shanley-esteemed alumnus, prodigious talent, humanist, you urge us to engage in the hard and passionate exercise of doubting our “certainties,” and thereby exchange the easy answer for deeper, more penetrating wisdom. By virtue of the authority vested in me by New York University, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.”