The honor was presented to the 80-year-old writer, poet and activist Thursday during "A Morning with Maya Angelou," the official kick-off event for the inauguration of the university's 16th president, Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., the university said.
"The Shenandoah University community is honored to have Maya Angelou as part of our inauguration celebration," Fitzsimmons said. "Her literary and creative voice resonates across a variety of media within our culture. It's important we recognize her contributions to literature, to women, to education and to our society."
"Angelou is considered one of the great voices of contemporary literature," the university said in a release. "She is a remarkable Renaissance woman: a poet, memoirist, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. She has authored many dozens of books of literature as well as poetry and essays; she has appeared on the Broadway stage, in films and in television shows; she has written and directed plays; and she has recorded 10 spoken word albums."