Honorary Degree Nomination Procedures

  1. Nominations will be sent to the Office of the President and may be made by any member of the faculty, staff, student body, administration or Board of Trustees, or by any alumnus of the University. An individual may not nominate himself or herself. The nominator should submit a narrative letter indicating the importance of the candidate’s achievements and the reasons why these achievements should be honored by the University, along with a biographical sketch of the candidate. Other documents, such as letters of support for the nomination or articles about the nominee or written by the nominee, are also welcome.
  2. The Office of the President will assemble dossiers, ask for further information from the nominator if necessary, duplicate the dossiers for the Honors and Awards Committee, and mail the information to committee members.
  3. The President will convene the Honors and Awards Committee early in the academic year. After a period of discussion the members will select nominees to be invited to receive a degree, and may authorize the President to invite alternates if the original invitee declines.The Committee shall decide how many awards will be recommended, and in what categories, considering a proper balance of fields of endeavor and other factors. The Office of the President will make available a list of previous recipients to indicate the balance of awards from previous years. In any one field, a nominee and alternates may be chosen. An honorary degree cannot be offered to a previous recipient.
  4. A Committee report and a slate of nominees will be presented to the Board of Trustees. The Board will make its selections and set the date of the event as the Commencement or a special Convocation.
  5. Only under extraordinary circumstances will honorary degrees be conferred in absentia

Honorary Degrees may be awarded in four categories based on the specific criteria listed below:

Doctor of Laws

Distinguished service to state or to nation, to learning or to humankind, coupled with intellectual gifts and moral qualities that entitle the recipient to rank with persons of culture and high principle.

Doctor of Letters or Doctor of Fine Arts

Distinguished service to letters, art, music or education, coupled with intellectual and moral qualities that are widely recognized.

Doctor of Science

Distinguished service to science, coupled with personal qualities and a kind of learning that entitles the recipient to recognition by a learned educational body of high standing.

Doctor of Humane Letters

Distinguished service of a general nature, coupled with personal qualities and a kind of learning that entitles the recipient to recognition by a learned educational body of high standing.


Nomination information submitted will be kept confidential. Confidentiality at all points in the nominating process is crucial. No discussion concerning nominees should take place outside of those directly involved in the evaluation process. The President, or a designee, is responsible for contacting the candidates once the Board of Trustees has approved a slate of candidates.