Country music stars to get honorary degrees from Georgia universities

Fans of Zac Brown know that the singer likes his chicken fried and a cold beer on a Friday night.

Or so goes one of the biggest earworms on the Zac Brown Band’s song list.

Now there’s a new trivia fact: He’s getting an honorary degree from the Georgia university where he went to school.

The University of West Georgia received approval Wednesday from the Georgia Board of Regents to award an honorary doctorate to Zachry “Zac” Alexander Brown. The Southern rocker and singer-songwriter who grew up in Georgia will receive the recognition May 13 during the university’s spring commencement.

Brown attended the school in the late 1990s and was a member of the Zeta Kappa chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity, according to a university letter recommending him for the honor. Brown has said in previous interviews that he left school to pursue music full-time.

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The Zac Brown Band has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards and won three.

In endorsing the musician for the honor, university President Brendan B. Kelly wrote that Brown is “globally famous with roots in Georgia” and “an ideal candidate for an honorary degree.”

“Awarding Mr. Brown the degree will enliven the sense of pride in UWG that he often shares on the global stage, which will further strengthen the sense of belonging and connectedness we provide at our institution,” Kelly wrote.

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

The Regents also agreed to award country music artist Cole Swindell an honorary degree from Georgia Southern University. Swindell grew up in tiny Bronwood, Georgia, and is known for wearing clothing with Georgia Southern’s logo. A school spokeswoman said he was a business student in the early 2000s.

Swindell has penned dozens of hit songs for country music’s biggest acts. He’s had plenty of his own hits too, such as “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” and “Chillin’ It.”

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“Mr. Swindell’s public and consistent support for Georgia Southern has elevated our national brand and exposure in ways we could not pay for or earn on our own,” wrote President Kyle Marrero.

Georgia Southern will present the honorary degree at its spring commencement ceremony.

It’s not uncommon for the University System to approve honorary degrees to acclaimed musical artists. The system approved Georgia State University’s request last year for an honorary bachelor’s degree for rapper/actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, a former student.