The University of Connecticut awards honorary degrees “only in recognition of extraordinary and lasting distinction. The award should represent the highest intellectual and moral values; it should reflect the very character and quality of the University itself.” (Article XVII, University of Connecticut Laws and Bylaws)
For many years the University of Connecticut did not award honorary degrees based on a ruling early in the 20th century by a state attorney general. Using a strict interpretation of the law, the ruling banned honorary degrees because the legislature had authorized the granting of degrees for courses taken, and no courses led to an honorary degree. A later attorney general overturned that interpretation, and since 1982 the University has conferred honorary degrees each year.
Prior to 1982, honorary degrees were presented to three individuals:
1918 – Robert M. Landers, Master of Science. Landers was chairman of the Commission of Food Supply and Conservation of the State Council of Defense during World War I.
1918 – Robert Scoville, Master of Science. Federal Food Administrator for Connecticut, also during World War I.
1934 – Edwina M. Whitney, Master of Letters. Awarded upon her retirement as college librarian. She had served since 1900 and also taught German and English.
A University honors and awards committee considers nominations for honorary degrees and presents recommendations for the approval of the Board of Trustees. For more information, please see Article XVII of the By-Laws of the University of Connecticut.
Information on the History of Commencement pages was researched and compiled by Mark J. Roy.