Honorary Degrees, Granting of

Policy Number: 
II.08.03
Reason for Policy: 

To stipulate criteria and required approvals for the granting of honorary degrees by the University of Oregon. Although the committee cited in this policy also oversees Distinguished Service Awards, the criteria and procedures set forth within the policy apply only to Honorary Degrees. Only the Board of Trustees or the President has authority to bestow Distinguished Service Awards.  

Entities Affected by this Policy: 

General applicability.

Enactment & Revision History: 

05/04/2017 Revisions approved by University President Michael Schill. Policy renumbered from 01.00.05 to II.08.03.

02/12/1992 Reviewed and Approved by University President Myles Brand.

05/22/1991 Legislated by the University Senate
02/08/2010 Policy number revised from 1.000 to 01.00.05

10/15/2010 Updated changes from 1/10/2007 Senate approved motion. 

Policy: 

I. The University of Oregon (University), upon approval by the Board of Trustees (“Board”), shall award honorary degrees, which shall be honorary doctorates, under the following criteria:

A. To an individual or individuals who has/have shown outstanding scholarship or artistic achievement in their lifetime; or,

B. To an individual or individuals who has/have performed extraordinary public service or contributions to society in their lifetime.

II. No honorary degree shall be awarded by the University of Oregon to any person(s) who is/are currently employed by the University of Oregon, to any sitting member of the Board, or to any person(s) currently holding elective office within the United States.

III. An individual or organization shall not receive an honorarium or payment in exchange for accepting an honorary degree. This does not preclude an honorarium or compensation for other service or functions at the university, e.g., speaking at commencement or participating in a lecture series.  The Board may grant an exception to this at its discretion.

IV. There shall be an Honorary Degrees and Distinguished Service Awards Committee (“Committee”), which shall include the following:

  • President of the University of Oregon or his/her designee, who shall be chair;
  • Chairperson of the Faculty Advisory Council (FAC) or his/her designee from the FAC;
  • President of the University Senate or his/her designee from among University Senators;
  • Chairperson of the Graduate Council or his/her designee from the Graduate Council;
  • Chairperson of the Undergraduate Council or his/her designee from the Undergraduate Council;
  • Vice President for University Advancement or his/her designee;
  • Five (5) members of the teaching faculty, appointed by the President in consultation with University Senate leadership; and,
  • President of the Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO) or his/her designee from the ASUO Executive Team.
  1. The Committee will act in a consultative fashion regarding Distinguished Service Awards or other awards or types of recognition the president so tasks with the Committee. Those awards or recognitions are not subject to the procedures and criteria articulated herein.

V. The Committee shall solicit nominations for individuals who meet the criteria in Section I. Nominations may come from the University community or the broader community at large. Nominations may be submitted at any time, but the Committee will make a proactive solicitation at least once each academic year, preferably during the fall.  

A. The Committee shall screen nominations, ask for more information about the nominees as necessary, and investigate, to its satisfaction, that the nominee(s) meet the criteria above.

B. It is the responsibility of the Committee to evaluate each nominee and to determine whether it is appropriate to send  a recommendation to the University Senate.

C. The Committee and the University Senate shall do all work on honorary degrees in the strictest of confidence.

D. The University Senate, in Executive Session, shall discuss the candidates presented by the Committee. Members of the Committee shall make the presentations in support of the nominee(s) separately.

E. University Senators shall discuss, ask questions of the Committee if necessary, and vote separately on each nominee. A majority vote of members present is necessary for the nomination to be approved. Approval of a nomination will place a name into a pool of approved nominees.

F. The President of the University Senate shall formally inform the President of the University of the outcome of any vote related to honorary degrees.

G. The Committee will review, on at least an annual basis, the pool of approved nominees to ensure that it remains appropriate. Nominations in the pool shall sunset after three years; although such a sunset does not preclude an individual from receiving future recommendations pursuant to this policy.

H. From among the pool of approved nominees (see Section e) approved by the University Senate for an Honorary Degree, the President will forward up to two nominees in a given academic year to the Board of Trustees for final consideration.

Chapter/Volume: 
  • Volume II: Academics, Instruction and Research
  • Chapter 8: Academics, other
Responsible Office: 

For questions about this policy, please contact the office of the University Secretary at 541-346-3166 or trustees@uoregon.edu.

Original Source: 
UO Policy Statement