Rosanne Cash will receive an honorary doctoral degree during Arkansas State University’s spring commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 7, at 10 a.m. at Jonesboro’s Centennial Bank Stadium. Cash is an American singer-songwriter, author, historic preservationist, and daughter of the late Johnny Cash.
The ASU Board of Trustees voted in March 2020 to award the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, but the presentation was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Cash was awarded the SAG/AFTRA Lifetime Achievement for Sound Recordings in 2012 and the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award in the Performing Arts in 2014. In 2015, she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2019, she was a key contributor to Ken Burns’ documentary, Country Music, and in 2021, she received the Edward MacDowell Medal, awarded since 1960 to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to American culture. Cash is the first female composer to receive the honor.
A long-time supporter of Arkansas State University’s Heritage Sites, Cash is one of the family founders of the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival, and a founder of the Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home. Her philanthropic work has provided significant support to the heritage site, which celebrates the work of the New Deal program that created resettlement colonies across America during the Great Depression, as well as documents the formative years of her father and his family. Her personal devotion to the Heritage Sites projects has secured the donation of key artifacts from the New Deal era, restoration of the Dyess Colony circle, and the Boyhood Home as a museum to the life and times of the farmers of the era.
Cash is the 19th recipient of an honorary doctorate awarded by Arkansas State in a tradition that dates back to 1934, when U.S. Senator Hattie Caraway became the first. Prospective candidates for the degree are reviewed by the Honorary Doctorate Committee, which makes recommendations to the chancellor regarding award of the degree. The chancellor may forward this recommendation to the President and Board of Trustees. Honorary doctorates are awarded only with approval of the Board of Trustees.