On Monday, May 20, East Hampton rock royal Jon Bon Jovi received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He attended Penn’s 263rd Commencement at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.
His honoris causa salute was filmed, documenting the audience of Penn grads singing Bon Jovi’s 1986 hit “Living on a Prayer” before the rock star, philanthropist and wine entrepreneur was praised for his community service, charity work and musical success.
“Over the course of a globe-spanning career you have commanded musical venues in 50 countries before 37 million fans. Your 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame election underscored your tremendous influence on popular music. Your determination for growth and improvement drives your music and it also drives your community service,” Penn president Amy Gutmann said to Bon Jovi.
She went on to highlight his philanthropy work of launching the JBJ Soul Foundation with his wife, Dorothea Hurley. With his foundation, Bon Jovi created two community restaurants known as JBJ Soul Kitchens. These non-profit community restaurants function through donations and volunteering, and promise to welcome everyone.
As a Grammy-winning artist, Bon Jovi is no stranger to awards. He received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree back in 2001 from New Jersey’s Monmouth University.
In addition to music and philanthropy, Bon Jovi is also an award-winning winemaker. His rosé, Hampton Water, was named the #1 rosé in the world on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2018.
Bon Jovi took to Instagram after the ceremony to share a trio of photos and congratulate the graduates. The third photo shows him sitting on a bench attempting to talk to the school’s famous Ben Franklin statue, prompting laughs from assorted Penn faculty members who posed behind him. “It’s better to be a doctor than be in need of a doctor,” he wrote.