Billy Joel to receive honorary degree, give speech at Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University will confer honorary degrees this year upon three luminaries who have established remarkable legacies in their respective fields. Long Island’s Piano Man, William (Billy) Martin Joel, will receive a Doctor of Music; world renowned computer scientist Professor Ben Shneiderman, a two-time Stony Brook alumnus who pioneered the human-computer interaction and the highlighted textual link, will receive a Doctor of Science; and one of Long Island’s most prolific businessmen and philanthropists, Charles B. Wang, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters. All three will don academic regalia along with nearly six thousand students as they join in the University’s 55th Commencement ceremony. Mr. Joel and Mr. Wang will speak at the Friday, May 22nd Commencement Ceremony that begins at 11 am at LaValle Stadium; Prof. Shneiderman will speak at the prestigious Doctoral Hooding Ceremony on May 21st at 1 PM in the Island Federal Credit Union Arena.

“This is a remarkable distinction for the class of 2015, to be joined in their celebration by such a highly accomplished trio,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “It shows our new alumni how much can be achieved with vision, dedication and perseverance. These three individuals personify the relentless pursuit of excellence that Stony Brook embraces. I look forward to this commencement, as I’m sure does the entire class of 2015, as they prepare to celebrate the culmination of their dedication, hard work, and their vision for what lies ahead.”

William Martin Joel, better known as Billy Joel, is an American pianist, singer-songwriter, and composer who has received 23 GRAMMY Award nominations, six GRAMMY Awards and the prestigious GRAMMY Legend Award and is one of most popular recording artists and respected entertainers in history. Throughout the years, Joel’s songs have acted as personal and cultural touchstones for millions of people, mirroring his own goal of writing songs that “meant something during the time in which I lived … and transcended that time.”

He has sold more than 150 million records over the past quarter century, making him the sixth best-selling recording artist of all time, the third best-selling solo artist and he is one of the highest grossing touring artists in the world. In December 2013, Joel received The Kennedy Center Honors, one of the United States top cultural awards. In 2013, Billy Joel was established as the first-ever music franchise at Madison Square Garden, joining the Garden¹s other franchises including the Knicks, Rangers and Liberty.

“It shows our new alumni how much can be achieved with vision, dedication and perseverance.”

In 2014, Joel received both The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song and the once-in-a-century ASCAP Centennial Award. He has been inducted into the Songwriter¹s Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Billy Joel was honored by Steinway & Sons with a painted portrait that hangs in Steinway Hall in Manhattan. Joel, who has been a Steinway Artist for almost 20 years, is the first non-classical pianist to be immortalized in the Steinway Hall collection.

“Movin’ Out,” a Broadway musical based on his music choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp, took home two Tony Awards, including Best Orchestrations – Joel’s first Tony Award win – and Best Choreography. Joel has also performed alongside other music greats at two of Madison Square Garden’s most extraordinary benefit concerts ­ “12-12-12, The Concert For Sandy Relief,” which raised awareness and money for those affected by Hurricane Sandy and “The Concert for New York City,” which was held to help aid 9/11 victims and heroes.

Throughout his career, Joel has made it a personal mission to give back to New York and Long Island, and his connection to his home is evident throughout his music with album titles evoking New York places and themes, including Cold Spring Harbor, Streetlife Serenade, Turnstiles, and 52nd Street. One of his most beloved songs, “New York State of Mind,” has become an anthem for the state.

Over the years, Billy Joel has been very generous to Stony Brook University. After two Steinway grand pianos at the Staller Center for the Arts were damaged in a flood, Joel donated one of his own pianos, his second such donation to the University, valued at $250,000, and today, Stony Brook University stands in company with Billy Joel as fellow inductees into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.


Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.