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Policies and Procedures

2.05 Honorary Degrees


This policy provides the guidelines and process for awarding honorary degrees.

Policy Statement:

The University of Northern Iowa may award honorary degrees to individuals in order to recognize outstanding achievements and attainments which exemplify the goals and the ideals of the University.  

Honorary degrees awarded shall normally be Doctor of Laws (LL.D.), Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.), Doctor of Literature (Litt.D.), and Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) and shall be awarded as appropriate for the achievement or attainment being recognized.  Degrees which may be earned in regular course at the University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa, or Iowa State University shall not be awarded as honorary degrees. 

The following criteria shall be considered in selecting recipients.

  1. Achievements and attainments meriting recognition should exemplify the goals and ideals of the University.

  2. Financial and political consideration should not be the determining factor in a nomination or selection of a recipient for an honorary degree.

  3. Current holders of elective or appointive public office at the time of nomination for an honorary degree are not eligible.

  4. Significant connections with the University or Northern Iowa or with the State of Iowa may be important considerations, but recipients shall not be limited to such.

  5. Current faculty or staff members of the University of Northern Iowa are not eligible.

All nomination materials shall be kept in complete confidence at all times. Names of only those individuals who will be awarded an Honorary Degree shall be made public upon final approval by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

Honorary degrees shall be awarded at regularly scheduled University commencement ceremonies, or if necessary, during special honorary ceremonies.  The Committee on Honorary Degrees shall be responsible for the preparation of an appropriate citation.  An honorary degree shall normally be conferred only if the recipient is present in person.


Honorary Degree Committee

A standing committee shall be responsible for supervising the solicitation of suggestions and nominations and for making recommendations for the awarding of Honorary Degrees to the President of the University.  The committee shall be composed of seven members, plus the Provost, who will serve as the ex-officio chair of the committee.  Five elected faculty representatives, from each of the four academic colleges (with two from CHAS - one from Humanities and Arts, and one from Natural Sciences) will serve as voting members, along with the Special Assistant to the President for Board and Governmental Relations or his/her designee, and the Dean of the Graduate College or his/her designee. All committee members shall be voting members of the faculty.  Members from the academic colleges shall serve terms of three years, with at least one member being selected each year.

Nomination & Selection Process 

1. Nominations may be made at any time by members of the university community.  The Chair of the selection committee shall publicize solicitation for nominations from University faculty, staff, and/or administration, and distribute nominations to selection committee members.  Nominations should consist of the following.

  • A letter of Nomination, describing outstanding achievements and attainments of the nominee. This letter must include information/documentation relevant to, or in support of, recognition. Examples of documentation may include (but are not limited to) CV/resume of the nominee; website of the nominee which includes description of accomplishments; books, recordings, or other examples of the nominee’s work.

  • Letter(s) of support from additional sources are strongly encouraged.

  • Other materials as deemed appropriate to support the nomination.

  • All materials should be sent by the published nomination deadline to the office of the Provost. Letters of nomination and support (and other supporting materials already in electronic format) should be sent electronically.

2. Selection committee shall review nominations and forward recommendations to the President.

3. The role of the President in the selection process consists of the following.

  • The President shall request University Faculty Senate review.

  • The President shall forward his/her final recommendation to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

  • All invitations to the Honorary Degree recipient(s) will be extended by the President. 

Additional procedures and details necessary for implementation shall be determined by the committee.

University Faculty Senate, approved April 13, 2015
President’s Cabinet, approved May 19, 2015
President and Executive Management Team, approved June 1, 2015