KNOXVILLE — Former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore will be honored by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with only the third honorary degree granted by the campus. The degree was approved by the UT Board of Trustees at their meeting today.
Gore will receive the degree — an Honorary Doctor of Laws and Humane Letters in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology — at the spring commencement exercises of the College of Arts and Sciences on May 14. He will be the featured speaker at the ceremony, addressing graduates and their families along with the gathered faculty.
“Vice President Gore’s career has been marked by visionary leadership, and his work has quite literally changed our planet for the better,” said UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “He is among the most accomplished and respected Tennesseans in history, and it is fitting that he should be honored by the flagship education institution of his home state.”
Gore, whose career in public service and business has spanned four decades, is currently chairman of Current TV, an Emmy-award-winning, independently owned cable and satellite television nonfiction network for young people based on viewer-created content and citizen journalism. He also serves as chairman of Generation Investment Management, a firm that is focused on a new approach to sustainable investing.
Gore’s appreciation and personal interest in the institution of higher education is apparent as he serves as faculty member/visiting professor at various institutions across the country. A UT Knoxville faculty member holds the Nancy Gore Hunger Chair for Excellence in Environmental Studies, endowed by Gore to honor his late sister. Gore also is a distinguished member of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy’s board of directors and honorary co-chair of the Tennessee 4-H Club Foundation Inc. with UT Extension.
Gore, a native of Carthage, Tenn., was inaugurated as the 45th vice president of the U.S. on Jan. 20, 1993, and served eight years in that office. During that time, Gore was a central member of President Clinton’s economic team. He served as president of the Senate, a Cabinet member, a member of the National Security Council, and as the leader of a wide range of administration initiatives. Prior to his service as vice president, Gore was twice elected to the U.S. Senate from Tennessee, in 1984 and 1990, and represented Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District — the seat held by his father, Al Gore Sr., before his own service in the Senate — in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1976 to 1982.
He received a degree in government with honors from Harvard University in 1969. After graduation, he volunteered for enlistment in the U.S. Army and served in the Vietnam War. Upon returning from Vietnam, Gore became an investigative reporter with the Tennessean in Nashville, where he also attended Vanderbilt University’s Divinity School and then Law School.
Gore was the co-winner, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change. He is the author of the best-selling books “Earth in the Balance” and “An Inconvenient Truth” and also is the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary.
In addition to his roles with Current TV and Generation Investment Management, Gore is a member of the board of directors of Apple Inc., a senior adviser to Google Inc., and a partner with the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. He is a visiting professor at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and chairs the Alliance for Climate Protection, a nonprofit organization designed to help solve the climate crisis.
He and his wife, Tipper, live in Nashville. They have four children and three grandchildren.
Gore will join entertainer and philanthropist Dolly Parton and former Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. as the only recipients of honorary degrees from UT Knoxville.