Faculty and Academic Staff Handbook

23rd Edition, 2013 Version


Chapter VIII - Academic Standards, Procedures and Policies

8.12 Honorary Degrees

[FS 07/08-18document]

8.12.1 Criteria

UW-River Falls may bestow honorary doctoral degrees on individuals of exceptional accomplishment and distinction who have made significant contributions to the University, region, state or nation, or who have demonstrated a consistently outstanding record of accomplishment in their field of endeavor.

8.12.2 Degree Designations

The following Honorary Degree designations may be awarded by UW-River Falls:

  • Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, (LL.D)
  • Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, (SC.D.)
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, (LH.D.)
  • Doctor of Literature, Honoris Causa, (D.Lit.)

8.12.3 Limitations

To insulate the honorary degree from partisanship, to protect the award from possible conflicts of interest and to protect nominees from possibly compromising positions, the following three categories of individuals are ineligible for an honorary degree from an institution of the University of Wisconsin System:

a) Public Officials and Political Appointees Included are serving members of the Wisconsin Legislature and the Wisconsin congressional delegation; elected and appointed officials; and all members of the state judiciary.
b) Regents Included are serving members of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.
c) University of Wisconsin System employees

Included are currently employed faculty or staff at each university and in System Administration.

Persons in any of these three categories could be eligible for consideration two years or more after they have vacated office or terminated employment. However, emeritus faculty are not eligible for honorary degrees unless they have achieved distinction in a second career following retirement.

In awarding honorary degrees, the University of Wisconsin System does not assume any legal obligations. The recipients receive no honoraria, but the institution shall assume all expenses incurred by the recipients that are associated with their participation in the commencement.

8.12.4 Honorary Degree Committee

The Honorary Degree Committee considers and recommends candidates for honorary degrees consistent with the criteria.

The UW-River Falls Honorary Degree Committee (HDC) will be the Faculty External Relations Committee or whatever successor committee is appointed by the Faculty Senate. When sitting as the HDC, the committee membership will be supplemented to include the System President and Chancellor as ex officio members.

8.12.5 Procedures

At the start of each academic year the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs will announce that nominations will be accepted by the HDC for consideration during that year. Nominations may be made at any time, and the Committee will, if it makes a positive recommendation, include in its deliberations consideration of the appropriate commencement for conferral of the honorary degree.

A nomination may be initiated by any member of the faculty or academic staff and requires the endorsement of five other members of the faculty or academic staff in order to be considered by the Committee. The person presenting the nomination to the Committee will submit nomination papers that include a resumé of the person being nominated and a letter of nomination which outlines in sufficient detail the qualifications of the nominee. These qualifications should be clearly related to the criteria stated above. The Committee will consider each nomination in a timely manner, using the established criteria in reaching a decision on the recommendation. If the recommendation is negative, the Vice Chancellor will convey that result in writing to the person submitting the nomination. No reasons for the decision will be required, and none will be given in writing. If the recommendation is positive, that recommendation will be forwarded to the Chancellor. The Chancellor will then, jointly with the President of the UW System, determine whether to recommend to the Board of Regents conferral of the degree. The Chancellor conjointly with the System President will recommend nominees to the Board. Particular attention is devoted to the identification of women and minority candidates for consideration for honorary degrees.

All activities related to the nomination of candidates, the review of documentation supporting each nominee, and recommendations to the Board must be conducted with confidentiality appropriate to personnel matters.

8.12.6 Approval Process

Board of Regents approval must be obtained at least two months prior to the commencement at which the degree is to be conferred. For a spring commencement the nominations must be received for first reading by the Board in February and for a winter commencement not later than the October Board meeting, As a matter of policy the Board of Regents will generally limit to one the number of honorary degrees any individual may receive from the UW System. Therefore, the UW System Office of Academic Affairs shall serve as formal information exchange office to avoid duplication of nominees being advanced to the Board. The chair of the Honorary Degree Committee must clear nominees with the UW-System Office of Academic Affairs before final institutional selections are determined. Upon Board of Regents approval of the institutional nominees for honorary doctorates, the Chancellor will invite the candidates to attend the commencement convocation at which the award is to be conferred. Honorary degrees are not awarded in absentia.