In life, Prince had several names. In death, he now adds another: Dr. Prince.
The University of Minnesota honored the late pop star Wednesday night with the institution’s highest award — an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.
“Prince emulates everything a musician should be,” Michael Kim, director of the university’s School of Music, told CNN.
Tyka Nelson, Prince’s sister, accepted the award from university President Eric W. Kaler and Regent Darrin Rosha at a ceremony in Minneapolis, the city where Prince was born and raised.
“If you (poked) him, you would probably hear a sound of music. He was music, kind of like how God is love,” Nelson told CNN affiliate WCCO.
Although Prince died in April 2016, the university decided to continue a process that had begun in 2015 and honor him with the posthumous degree. Awarding someone who isn’t alive is rare, the school said.
The university lies in the heart of the city that Prince loved. He lived and died in Minneapolis and gave his first live performance of “Purple Rain” in the city’s First Avenue club.
The honor, the university said, is in recognition of the singer’s “remarkable talent, enduring influence in music, and his role in shaping the city of Minneapolis.”
Kim said it also serves as an important lesson and reminder.
“Society pressures young people to conform to certain standards, and Prince was anything but standardized,” he said. “Be yourself, know who you are and good things are going to happen.”