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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 2, 2006

UI To Begin Conferring Honorary Degrees

The University of Iowa will begin conferring honorary degrees at commencement ceremonies, under a new nomination process recently established by the UI Faculty Senate.

Honorary degrees will be conferred upon individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary and sustained achievements in research, scholarship, education, artistic creation, social activism, human rights, humanitarian outreach, or other endeavors consistent with the values of UI.

"An honorary degree is one of the highest accolades in higher education," said UI Executive Vice President and Provost Michael J. Hogan. "We've been very thorough and have worked very carefully to arrive at a policy that will ensure the integrity of the process. As a result, our faculty will be able to honor the most deserving individuals by forging a stronger bond between people of such distinguished achievement and the University of Iowa. We'll also enhance the University's reputation and the experience of our current and future students."

Sheldon Kurtz, Faculty Senate president, said UI was one of the few institutions  among the Association of American Universities that had not offered honorary degrees. "As a major educational institution serving the needs of our state and country as well as the international community, the Faculty Senate believes it appropriate that we honor persons of extraordinary accomplishments and bring them into the UI community. Acceptance of an honorary degree is a testament by the recipient of the role UI plays both nationally and international in the educational community," he said.

The deadline for submitting nominations for the first honorary degree (which may be awarded in May 2007) is Friday, Dec. 1. A nomination statement should not exceed two pages and should address the nature of the nominee's achievements, why those achievements are "extraordinary" and "sustained," and any additional information that might be important. 

Nominations may come from colleges or from individual faculty members. If a nomination comes from an individual, the Honorary Degree Selection Committee will consult with the appropriate faculty before making a recommendation. The committee's recommendations must be approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

An honorary degree policy has been developed, and these principles apply to the selection process:

--The degree should be awarded in honor of extraordinary achievement over an entire career and not merely to honor a single achievement.

--Recipients of the degree will be selected by a faculty committee and approved by the Provost, President, and Board of Regents.

--The degrees awarded will be called: Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Honorary Doctor of Science, Honorary Doctor of Laws, or as appropriate to the individual being honored. The relevant college should be consulted about the title of the degree.

--Current employees of the university are not eligible, but honorary degrees may be awarded to previous employees who meet the criteria.

An Honorary Degree Selection Committee has been appointed (see the honorary degrees Web page at for a list of members).

The last person to receive an honorary degree from the University of Iowa was Former UI President Willard "Sandy" Boyd, approximately 25 years ago. The Faculty Senate voted to reinstate the honor at a meeting earlier this year.

Nomination statements may be submitted online (see the honorary degree web page at or may be sent to Evalyn Van Allen-Shalash in the Faculty Senate Office, 604 Jefferson Building, Iowa City, IA 52242.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012,; Program: UI Faculty Senate 319-335-0617