Kanye West receives honorary doctorate in Chicago

Rapper beams as he accepts an honorary PhD from the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the top art schools in the US

Just call him Dr West.

Kanye West beamed on Monday as he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, one of the top art schools in America.

West admitted to being nervous at the ceremony, in which he wore the traditional cap and gown. Though he never completed his degree in English at Chicago State University, where his late mother, Dr Donda West, was chair of the department, academia clearly left its mark.

West’s first three albums were called The College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation, while he has frequently expressed his frustration at being unable to join the fashion course at Central Saint Martins art college in London.

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

He told the students that they should not apologise for their opinions, and that he would use the honour to “make all of our lives easier”.

His wife, Kim Kardashian, who was promoting her book Selfie in Brazil, tweeted:

Dr. Kanye West!!!!!!! I'm so proud of you baby & I know your mom would be so proud too!!!! 🎓 pic.twitter.com/dgcj3uUVvq

— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) May 11, 2015

SAIC’s previous honorary doctorates include Jeff Koons, Patti Smith and Theaster Gates. The university told Complex that those honoured have produced work which is “imaginative and aesthetically rich, and sometimes also provocative and controversial, shifting the cultural landscape in significant ways”.

Lisa Wainwright, dean of faculty and vice president of academic administration, who sits on the committee that decides honorary degrees, told the Chicago Tribune that she had decided to honour West after reading an interview with him in which he said that he would have loved to attend SAIC.

“I read it and thought, ‘Wow, this is a fantastic moment.’ Here is this major figure in the cultural landscape promoting art school, this guy from Chicago saying art school is cool. So we thought, ‘This man deserves an honorary doctorate from us!’”

However, some former students were unhappy, with Corinna Kirsch, now an arts journalist, writing: “As an alum of SAIC, I am offended that the school’s exorbitant tuition and fees will help fund this nonsense.”

Guardian staff

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