New York University President John Sexton today bestowed an honorary doctorate on award-winning jazz saxophonist, composer, and NYU alumnus Wayne Shorter at NYU's 178th 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 Fine Arts degree, honoris causa, on Wayne Shorter:
"Wayne Shorter—pivotal figure in the history of jazz, unique composer and astonishing improviser, your work of five decades has helped shape a fundamental transformation of modern music. Your early teenage brilliance on the tenor saxophone earned you a nickname, ‘The Newark Flash.’ One of Art Blakey’s renowned Jazz Messengers, you won the DownBeat magazine ‘New Star Saxophonist’ award in 1962, and two years later joined Miles Davis and his quintet—following his excursions into electric jazz. With your colleagues from Weather Report and later your own groups as a leader, you in large measure helped define the genre of jazz fusion and modern jazz. Your compositions are considered standard repertoire by jazz musicians from around the world. Informed by your far-reaching intelligence and deep interest in philosophy, literature, and film, your music knocks down walls between classical and jazz and embraces peers, critics, and fans alike in a consensus of awe. You have earned 9 Grammy Awards and 13 Grammy nominations, and you are a designated ‘Jazz Master’ of the National Endowment of the Arts. We proudly salute you, a 1956 Bachelor of Music Education graduate in our Steinhardt School, as the singular musician roundly considered to be the greatest living composer of jazz.
"Wayne Shorter—esteemed alumnus, an American original, your masterful music interweaves the popular and progressive as you soar into flights of genius that make your life’s work a unique echo of the eternal. By virtue of the authority vested in me by New York University, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa."