Recording Artist/Activist Bono to Deliver Commencement Address at University of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA -- Bono, lead singer and songwriter for the rock group U2 and a social-justice activist, will speak at the 248th Commencement of the University of Pennsylvania May 17.

In addition to the critical and popular success of his recording and touring activities with U2, Bono co-founded the organization Debt AIDS Trade Africa in 2002 together with activists from the Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt campaign.  DATA's main objective is to raise public awareness and action in the United States and other wealthy nations against AIDS and poverty in Africa.

"With his tireless efforts and use of his celebrity to remind us of our moral duties as citizens of the globe, Bono has been a powerful force for change, galvanizing the action of presidents, countries and the general public," said Penn President Judith Rodin.

In 1999 Bono received the MTV Free Your Mind Award for his campaigning work, and in 2002 he received the French Legion d'Honneur.   With DATA, he lobbies world leaders and decision makers, as well as generating media and public interest in issues relating to Africa, to create pressure for more money and better policy.  DATA recruits new activists for its campaigning work through the Web site

Bono was born in Dublin in 1960 and joined with the other members of U2 in high school.  The band has won seven Grammy awards and sold more than 100 million albums.

Bono will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.  

Other honorary degree recipients:

  • Elizabeth Blackburn, a cell and molecular biologist, is best known for her research on telomeres, the structures on the tips of chromosomes that might hold the key to stabilizing cancer cells.  Her initial research in this field took place in the 1970s, long before advanced DNA cloning and sequencing procedures were developed.  (Honorary Doctor of Science)
  • Lee Friedlander, a photographer, is best known for his album cover portraits of the Atlantic Records jazz artists of the 1950s.  He later captured American social and physical landscapes in stark black and white and then narrowed his focus to obscure historical memorials and -- even later -- a portrait series of industrial workers and computer operators.  (Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts)
  • Jaroslav Pelikan, hailed as the premier historical theologian, has spent five decades and 40 volumes -- examining Christian tradition.  His five-volume work on church doctrine has earned him a place among the world's top church scholars, and his most recent book is considered the definitive exploration of Christian tenets.  (Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters)
  • Max Roach, a legendary jazz drummer, is among those credited with creating the backbeat for the nascent jazz style "be-bop."  During his long career, he collaborated with leading choreographers, and his scores accompanied numerous dramatic presentations.  At the forefront of the civil rights movement, Roach said he hoped his art offered enlightenment as well as entertainment.  (Honorary Doctor of Music)

Additional Penn Commencement information is available by calling 215-573-4723 or by visiting