Nikki Giovanni to receive honorary degree from Roanoke College

Giovanni will read one of her poems at Commencement on May 6

Nikki Giovanni retires after 35 years as an English professor at Virginia Tech. (WSLS)

SALEM, Va. – Literary icon Nikki Giovanni is set to receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Roanoke College.

Giovanni has received a long list of awards and accolades throughout her writing career, and recently retired from her role as a professor at Virginia Tech after 35 years.

Recommended Videos



She is the author of over two dozen books of poetry, hundreds of poems, and 11 illustrated children’s books, along with several other books and individual pieces.

“At Roanoke College, we are deeply committed to helping students prepare for lives of purpose, build meaningful careers, and meet the world’s greatest needs. Nikki Giovanni is a remarkable example of these three things,” said President Frank Shushok. “As a poet, teacher, and cultural icon, she bravely calls it like she sees it, challenging us to be better versions of ourselves—both as individuals and communities. Her poetry is a masterclass on what love looks like in all its forms—from friendship, quiet moments with nature, debilitating grief, and righteous anger towards injustice. It’s an honor to welcome her to the Roanoke family.”

Giovanni will receive her honorary degree at Commencement, and will read one of her poems as part of the ceremony on May 6.


About the Author

Lauren Helkowski joined WSLS 10’s digital team in August 2022, but has held a passion for storytelling long before.

Recommended Videos