Billy Collins, Doctor of Letters

Citing as early influences the work of Merrie Melodies and Loony Tunes, you were unpublished, perhaps coincidentally but perhaps not, until your forties. Since then,however, you have developed a unique place in American poetry. In pieces that are accessibly clear on the surface but progressively deep underneath, you open readers to the hidden power of the everyday. At the same time you have dedicated yourself to spreading the joy of poetry to the population. Noting that “high school is where poetry goes to die,” you founded the program Poetry 180, to make poems an active part of the daily experience of students. You also have taught regularly in universities and have led workshops across the U.S. and Ireland. You have served as U.S. Poet Laureate, and been named a Literary Lion of The New York Public Library.You have on three occasions read at the White House and once to a joint session of Congress to honor the victims of 9/11.  You have become, in short, a poet of the people—a splendid and important role in a democracy.

I hereby declare you recipient of the honorary degree Doctor of Letters, entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges appertaining thereto.

June 4, 2017