Westminster College President Brian Levin-Stankevich introduced Redford and noted his many achievements, including his performance in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," his environmental work and his efforts to advance the success of independent films.
Redford, 76, then delivered a speech to 900 graduates and their families Saturday after he received the honor, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
"This new generation coming forward ... what you're really basically saying is, 'Give us the reins. Don't tell us about the past. Don't tell us what you did or didn't do.' " he said. "And I give you all the encouragement in the world to grab those reins and run with them."
Redford, who dropped out of college to take art and theater classes in Europe and New York, congratulated the graduates for sticking with education.