Filmmaker Ava DuVernay Receives Honorary Doctorate From Yale


May 26, 2021

This is well deserved.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay just received an honorary doctorate degree from Yale College, Yale News reports. May 22nd marked the 320th Commencement ceremony for Yale College. Graduating students from the class of 2021 undergraduate, professional, and graduate schools alike all gathered together into Old Campus for the ceremony, sans an audience due to the coronavirus pandemic.


University President Peter Salovey presided over the commencement, his eighth graduation in the role. He spoke candidly about the challenging year and the unwavering commitment of both faculty and graduates. The university granted 3,395 degrees, including 1,142 degrees for graduating seniors and nine honorary doctorates.

Among those honorary doctorate degrees conferred was filmmaker Ava DuVernay. For her work as a pioneering influencer in the TV and film landscape, DuVernay received a Doctor of Fine Arts degree. President Salovey called her a “Hollywood maverick.” The degrees were given in a virtual address, each recipient being addressed for their particular contributions to the world. 

“Filmmaker, creator, and critic, you portray the richness and variety of human experience from all angles. By elevating others, you bring new stories into focus and amplify voices we need to hear…for challenging us to reckon with our past and our present and for working to change both an industry and society, Yale is pleased to confer on you this Doctor of Fine Arts degree,” Salovey said.


DuVernay took to Instagram to thank a Yale professor for being a part of the ceremony and express her gratitude, writing, “My thanks to the special committee at [Yale} for this honor, especially to [Sarah Elizabeth Lewis] for saying my name. My mom is over the moon and has taken to calling me Dr. DuVernay. Hope that wears off. But the joy of your high regard will not. A thrill to share this with the formidable Class of 2021 and my esteemed fellow honorees.”




View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ava DuVernay (@ava)




Other recipients who received an honorary doctorate include comedian Stephen Colbert, writer Judy Blume, astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala, disease eradication expert Donald R. Hopkins, and the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who received a posthumous Doctor of Divinity degree.

“These degrees are the most significant distinction conferred by the Yale Corporation…to signal pioneering achievement in a field or conspicuous and exemplary contribution to the common good. Collectively [the honorary degree recipients] represent Yale’s highest aspirations as a University dedicated to light and truth,” Salovey said.


Congratulations Ava!! 

Photo Courtesy of @ava/Instagram

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