After a Posthumous Award, Tom Petty Is Now a Doctor

An honor for a man who once called Gainesville home

Tom Petty
Tom Petty of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers performs during the Outside Lands Music Festival at Golden Gate Park on August 9, 2014 in San Francisco, California.
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

It’s been four years since Tom Petty’s death, but his legacy continues to grow — including with a deluxe reissue of his acclaimed album Wildflowers and his estate’s ambitious work on Angel Dream. Now, the late singer/songwriter has yet another accomplishment to add to his already-impressive resumé: he’s now Tom Petty, Ph.D.

A report from the Associated Press (via ABC News) has more details — though the institution of higher learning making the award won’t surprise many people. The University of Florida’s board of trustees voted unanimously to give Petty a doctorate in music.

Gainesville, home of the University of Florida, is where Petty was born and where he grew up. The Associated Press’s report notes that he also worked at the university for a time as a groundskeeper. Petty also wrote a song titled “Gainesville” which was released posthumously.

The honorary doctorate isn’t the only way Gainesville has paid tribute to one of its most iconic people. In 2019, Gainesville hosted a music festival that coincided with Petty’s birthday. And following Petty’s death, the Florida Historical Marker Council voted to place a marker near the house where the musician grew up.

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