The actor was attending the launch of a book based on the diaries of another famous Welshman, Richard Burton, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts when he was presented with the unexpected honour.
Swansea University Vice Chancellor Professor Richard B. Davies handed the award to the Frost/Nixon star and Sheen admitted he was overwhelmed to have been recognised by the local institution.
He said, “I’m thrilled to receive this honorary degree, particularly as it comes from Swansea, the city that I grew up closest to and where I had some of the happiest times of my youth. I am so proud to still be involved with so many groups and organisations in the… area and so to be honoured by Swansea University in this way is especially meaningful for me.”
A statement from Davies, posted on the university’s website, reads, “These awards are conferred on individuals in recognition of outstanding achievement and contribution to the university or region.
“Michael Sheen has achieved extraordinary success internationally. But he has never forgotten his roots and has found many ways to give something back to our part of the world. We are therefore delighted to honour him with this award.”
Sheen hailed from the same small Welsh town as Burton and the Hollywood legend’s diaries, on which the new book is based, are part of a collection of personal papers kept at Swansea University’s Library.
The diaries were donated to the institution by Burton’s wife Sally.