UK > Graduate School > About the Graduate School > Honorary Degrees
An honorary doctorate is granted for the purpose of recognizing those persons who exemplify the ideals of the University of Kentucky through sustained achievement and distinction of national or international significance.
The University Joint Committee on Honorary Degrees solicits nominations for degrees to be awarded at the May and December Commencements. A complete nomination dossier (as defined below) is required in order for the Committee to consider a nominee. The Committee will take into account the criteria, principles, and guidelines approved by the elected Faculty Senators (11/13/2006) and Board of Trustees (4/24/2007) in the selection of honorees, as indicated below.
To submit a suggestion for a potential Honorary Degree nominee, click here.
To upload a nomination dossier (as a single PDF document), click here.
Nomination dossiers for December 2014 Commencement will be accepted through Thursday, May 1, 2014.
Honorary Degree Criteria
In awarding Honorary Degrees, the University accomplishes several purposes: It pays tribute to those whose life and work exemplify professional, intellectual, or artistic achievement. It recognizes and appreciates those who have made significant contributions to society, the state, and the University. It highlights the diverse ways in which such contributions can be made and it sends a message that principles, values, and contributions are important. Well-chosen honorees affirm and dignify the University’s own achievements and priorities.
Honorary degrees may be conferred upon those who have achieved distinction through outstanding intellectual or creative achievements, or through outstanding leadership in education, business, or public service.
The honorary degree shall be awarded to recognize only exceptional accomplishments as outlined in the above principles. The nominee‘s special achievement or contribution to society shall be the fundamental consideration and shall be evaluated without regard to the nominee‘s attainment of influential position or financial status.
The nominee shall have gained distinction worthy of recognition extending well beyond his/her own field of endeavor and geographical area of activity.
Although it is recognized that it is desirable for the nominee to have a tie to the University of Kentucky or the Commonwealth of Kentucky, such a connection shall not be a requirement.
As long as the nominee clearly meets the criteria, his/her selection shall not be affected by the number of previous similar honors received.
Former faculty and staff of the University of Kentucky shall meet the same criteria as other nominees; current faculty and staff are not eligible.
Elected or appointed officials of the Commonwealth of Kentucky shall not be eligible as honorary degree candidates during their terms of office.
Except on special occasions or in unusual circumstances, the number of honorary degrees awarded at any given ceremony shall be limited to three.
The honoree must be present to receive the honorary degree.
The honorary degree shall be conferred at the regular university graduation ceremony or at a special assembly or convocation.
Please include the following items in the electronic dossier:
- A cover page listing the primary contact person for the nomination, including address, phone number, email and a list of supporting materials included in the dossier;
- A letter of nomination setting forth the nominee's qualifications relative to the criteria as cited above;
- Curriculum Vitae or Bio/professional resume;
- A minimum of two letters of support in addition to the primary letter of nomination;
- Optional additional information which the nominator deems appropriate.
A complete nomination dossier (with the minimum items listed above) is required for the nomination to be considered by the University Joint Committee on Honorary Degrees.
Nominees chosen by the University Joint Committee on Honorary Degrees are forwarded to the University Senate for consideration by elected Faculty Senators. Decisions are not released to the public until after a vote by the Board of Trustees. Nominators will not receive notification until the process is complete.
Please direct questions to Dr. Morris Grubbs,
Assistant Dean, The Graduate School
Phone: (859) 257-9725
Past Recipients [PDF]
Senate Rule on Honorary Degrees [PDF]
AR on Honorary Degrees [PDF]