Belmont University recognized recording artist and longtime Bruins supporter Vince Gill today with an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree during the 10 a.m. spring commencement celebration at the Curb Event Center. Click here to view the presentation, and click here to read more about Belmont’s Spring 2011 Commencement ceremonies.
Presenting the degree to Gill during the graduation ceremony, Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “As a singer, songwriter and multi-faceted musician, Vince Gill has mastered his craft and yet he keeps pushing himself to greater excellence. Moreover, as a citizen and humanitarian, he dedicates himself to service and providing opportunities for others to succeed. Vince is truly a Nashville—and national—treasure. His professional experiences and personal contributions make him an ideal candidate for this doctorate degree and a perfect model for Belmont students to emulate.”
In an acceptance speech marked with both humor and emotion, Gill reflected on his own education while also encouraging his fellow graduates to focus on friendships. “I knew as a young guy that college was not in my future. I was led by my ears. I didn’t see my future—I heard my future. I learned everything I know how to do by listening. I never in my wildest dreams thought that a day like this could happen… In all honesty I was hoping that this [doctorate] would be in friendship. That’s the single reason I stand before you today—and that’s because of your head basketball coach, Rick Byrd.
“I met Rick on a golf course. I was making records at that point but couldn’t prove it because no one owned them. He was coaching basketball, but he couldn’t prove it then because no one came to the games. It’s easily been one of the best friendships I ever had… I’d like to thank Bob Fisher and all the faculty. I have never been more honored to receive anything in my life because it came strictly from a friendship.”
Gill’s contributions to Belmont University are plentiful, starting in 1990 with the Vince Gill Celebrity Basketball Game and Concert which raised funds for scholarship and program enhancement for Belmont University’s Athletics and Music Business programs. For more than 12 years, the event also provided an invaluable opportunity for students to gain experience in planning and executing a music-industry event.
In addition, Vince Gill has established three endowed scholarships at Belmont in the names of his loved ones: The Stan Gill Scholarship in Music Business (in honor of his father, Stan Gill), The Robert Coen Scholarship in Music Business (in honor of his brother, Bob Coen), and The John Hughey Scholarship in Music Business (in honor of his longtime steel guitar player and friend, John Hughey). These scholarships provide resources for deserving students of Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. Last year the Curb College presented Gill with the 2010 Robert E. Mulloy Award of Excellence, an annual award honoring an individual who has achieved a level of excellence in the music business and entertainment industries with notable service to Belmont University and the Nashville community.
Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007, Vince Gill has become one of the best known names in country music. With more than 26 million albums sold, he has earned 18 CMA Awards, including Entertainer of the Year in 1993 and 1994. He is tied for having won the most CMA Male Vocalist Awards (five), and is currently third for accumulating the most CMA Awards in history. Gill is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and has received 20 Grammy Awards to date, the most of any male Country artist. Besides being known for his talent as a performer, musician and songwriter, Gill is regarded as one of Country Music’s best known humanitarians, participating in hundreds of charitable events throughout his career.