Tyler Perry to be guest speaker at Emory’s commencement

Entertainment mogul and philanthropist Tyler Perry will be Emory University’s keynote speaker at its May commencement ceremony, school officials announced Tuesday.

Perry, who did not complete high school, but later earned his General Education Development (GED) degree, will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree from Emory at the May 9 ceremony on its Druid Hills campus.

Emory officials picked Perry in part because of his philanthropy and his personal story.

Perry, who grew up in an abusive household in New Orleans, moved to Atlanta in the 1990s and used his life savings to create his first play. Along with his acting career, he’s produced or directed a number of films and stage plays and more than a half-dozen television shows, and he has a 300-acre studio in south Atlanta.

“Tyler Perry is a visionary creative force — writing, directing, producing and performing in plays, films and TV shows that move, entertain and inspire,” Emory President Gregory L. Fenves said in a statement. “Equally impressive are his endeavors as a philanthropist, humanitarian and social justice advocate. Whether funding scholarships for talented students, covering the grocery bills of elderly Atlanta residents, or supporting global disaster relief, he is renowned for creating opportunities and giving back to his community.”

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Emory will also confer honorary degrees to longtime community volunteer Louise R. Glenn and former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, now a partner in the King & Spalding law firm.

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