University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Senate

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The Senate Committee on Honorary Degrees invites nominations for honorary degree awards. You are urged to nominate, through your unit, outstanding candidates for Honorary Degree awards. Nomination procedures are detailed below.

Nominations will be considered throughout the year. Nominations and supporting materials received by the end of the fall semester and early in the spring semester will be considered for the degree at the end of the next academic year. The Committee urges all units contemplating submitting a nomination to begin their preparation as soon as possible.

The Committee very much appreciates your help in identifying outstanding individuals whom the University can honor and, in so doing, honor itself. If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact the Senate Office (333-6805).

For your convenience, here's an honorary degree nomination form you may use to submit a name to the Committee.


The prime, controlling consideration should be distinction. The person should have made a distinguished contribution to knowledge and creativity in the relevant field of endeavor, or have shown sustained activity of uncommon merit. The contributions may be made in a wide range of activities; the following list is not exhaustive:

Following Senate guidelines, the Committee will consider, but not be bound by, the degree to which the candidate has had some association with Illinois - the University or the State. While alumni of the University should not be excluded, honorary degrees are not a means of recognizing their contributions; other awards exist for this purpose. Current administrators, faculty, or staff of the University ordinarily are not eligible; emeriti are eligible even if engaged in teaching or research at the University. Elected officials of the State of Illinois and its subordinate units and members of the Legislature, during their terms of office, ordinarily are not eligible.

Senate guidelines emphasize recommendations by departments and other academic units. A nomination coming to the Committee from a member of the Board of Trustees, an alumnus/alumna or friend of the University, will be referred to the proper academic unit for support of the faculty.


For full consideration by the Committee, the nominator or nominating unit should supply the following information:

  1. A brief letter of nomination, summarizing the candidate's qualifications for this honor, and certifying the support of the appropriate academic unit. Support of multiple units is encouraged.
  2. A brief curriculum vitae of the nominee, including addresses, telephone numbers, or other means by which the nominee can be reached. If the nomination finds substantial initial support in the Honorary Degrees Committee, additional information may be requested from the department to develop the case and to provide the Senate with the materials it needs for the final decision.
  3. The names and addresses of at least four professionally-distinguished individuals who could be contacted for letters of support or further information about the candidate. For the benefit of the committee, brief biographies of the potential letter writers, indicating their qualifications and expertise, should be included. Nominators should not communicate directly with potential letter writers their intention to propose the nominee for an honorary degree, but may inform the letter writers that they may be asked for a letter of support, provided the specific nature of that request is kept confidential. In certain cases, such advance notice may be helpful in ensuring a prompt and timely response to the committee's eventual request. It is hoped that oral communications among professional colleagues will help assure the confidentiality of the decision process.