The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network, received an honorary doctorate of divinity from Bethune-Cookman University (BC-U) during the institution’s commencement ceremony on May 5.

Sharpton’s mother and father were present at the ceremony and witnessed him deliver the commencement address. The award from the Daytona Beach, Fla. school marks Sharpton’s second honorary doctorate of divinity.

“It is our great honor to welcome Rev. Sharpton back to B-CU as our commencement speaker,” university President Trudie Kibbe Reed said in a statement. “He has demonstrated excellence in leadership, education and service in his career. That makes him a tremendous role model for our students.”

The commencement ends a banner year for Bethune Cookman. Earlier in the school year, the university opened a brand new, state-of-art Residence Life Center and also kicked off the construction of a new athletic training center. Additionally, the school received affirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and received approval to implement a new master’s degree program in environmental science.

Honorary degrees were also awarded to Dr. Jacob F. Bryan, a Jacksonville, Fla., insurance executive and university trustee, who received an honorary doctorate of finance and a posthumous award for the university’s late founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, who received an honorary doctorate of humane letters “for the legacy she has left behind to the University,” the university said.