Kanye West has gone from college dropout to earning a doctorate from one of the most prestigious art schools in the United States — and he didn't even have to take any extra classes. The rapper, singer, and producer will be awarded an honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on May 11th, The Chicago Tribune confirmed, after West himself mentioned the the degree during an interview with French design blog Clique.
Lisa Wainwright, dean of faculty and vice president of academic administration at the SAIC, told The Chicago Tribune that she had secured West the honor after reading an interview in which he said he wished he'd attended the school. Wainwright said the Chicago-born West deserved an honorary doctorate because he was "a major figure in the cultural landscape" who said that "art school was cool." This isn't the first time the SAIC has given honorary doctorates to people outside of traditional art circles — the school has also conferred the honor on well-known musicians and writers such as Patti Smith and David Sedaris — but some ex-students of the school have complained about turning Kanye into Dr. West.
The school has also given an honorary doctorate to Patti Smith
Corinna Kirsch, SAIC alum and senior editor of art magazine Art F City, said she was "offended" that the school's fees would fund "this nonsense." Kirsch said that she wouldn't object to an honorary doctorate awarded to the star on his musical skills, but noted the SAIC didn't have a music program. She conceded the doctorate could be conferred on Kanye because of his dalliances with the fashion industry, but decided that made little sense, calling the move "a gimmick."
While West is most famous for his music, he did indeed go to art school — he attended Chicago's American Academy of Art, but left to study English at Chicago State University. His decision to leave higher education again, dropping out at the age of 20, was reflected in his first three albums: The College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation. Wainwright defended the award, saying that Kanye "would have been a perfect SAIC student" because "he likes to shake people out of complacency."