UT has honored Tennessee native son and world leader Al Gore Jr. with an honorary doctorate, just the third ever given by the university.
The former U.S. vice-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner received the honor at the spring 2010 commencement of the UT Knoxville College of Arts and Sciences, where he was featured speaker.
Gore took the occasion to discuss climate change, the issue with which he is most often identified.
“I believe in my heart that we are going to solve this crisis,” the Carthage, Tennessee, native told the graduates and their families. “I believe that this is the greatest opportunity that our society has ever had. And I’m excited about the fact that from this day forward you’re going to be a part of all of the great work our society is doing.”
Gore was co-winner, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change. He is the author of the best-selling books Earth in the Balance and An Inconvenient Truth and also is the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary.
Gore, whose career in public service and business has spanned four decades, is chairman of Current TV and of Generation Investment Management. He is a visiting professor at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and chairs the Alliance for Climate Protection.
Gore is a former U.S. representative and senator from Tennessee. He served as vice-president during the two presidential terms of Bill Clinton.
Nominations for an honorary degree are approved by a committee of the UT Knoxville Faculty Senate, the campus administration, and the Board of Trustees. Degree recipients must have made significant contributions to their field and to the citizens of their state and must have had a great impact on society.
Gore endowed UT Knoxville’s Nancy Gore Hunger Chair for Excellence in Environmental Studies in honor of his late sister. The professorship is currently held by Dan Simberloff, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Gore also is a member of the board of directors of UT Knoxville’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and honorary co-chair of the Tennessee 4-H Club Foundation Inc. with the UT Extension program.
The honorary Doctor of Laws and Humane Letters degree in ecology and evolutionary biology was bestowed upon Gore by Jan Simek, interim president; Jimmy G. Cheek, UT Knoxville chancellor; and Bruce Bursten, dean of UT Knoxville’s College of Arts and Sciences.