Policy 080.00

Awarding of Honorary Degrees

Originator: Provost

Subject: Guidelines and Procedures for the Awarding of UMUC Honorary Degrees and the President's Medal, and the Selection of Commencement Speakers

  1. Introduction
    1. In accordance with Board of Regents Policy III – 3.00 Policy on Awarding of Honorary Degrees, approved on July 13, 2001, UMUC may recognize members of the external community for their significant contributions to their professions, the greater community, or UMUC through the award of honorary degrees and the president's medal. Honorary degrees and the president's medal will normally be awarded at UMUC's commencement ceremonies. UMUC will also invite notable guests to participate in the commencement ceremonies as keynote speakers.
    2. These guidelines and procedures are established to insure that the identification, approval and invitation processes for all honorary degree recipients, president's medal recipients, and commencement speakers are consistent with University System of Maryland (USM) policies. Other considerations in the selection of recipients include the timeliness of scheduling, sensitivity to the significance of these honors, the status of the recipients, and the overall planning for commencement and other events.
  2. Honorary Degree Recipients
    1. UMUC may award honorary degrees to outstanding individuals who have:
      1. Made major contributions in intellectual, scholarly, or creative areas; or
      2. Risen to a position of eminence in their chosen field or acquired a national or international reputation in a selected field of endeavor; or
      3. Compiled a record of distinguished public service.
    2. Normally, honorary degrees may not be conferred on currently serving faculty, staff, members of the Board of Regents, or current holders of political office. Exceptions may be made only by a two–thirds vote of the Board of Regents.
    3. An individual may receive only one honorary degree from the University. The honorary degree recipient may also serve as the commencement speaker at a ceremony; however, being chosen as a speaker does not necessarily equate to selection for an honorary degree. Paid commencement speakers will not receive honorary degrees. The University will be judicious in the recommendation of degree recipients and will seek to recognize only individuals who meet the above criteria and who will, if selected, bring credit and recognition to the University.
  3. President's Medal
    The President's medal is awarded by the President on behalf of the University to recognize distinguished, extraordinary, and extensive service on behalf of, and in support of, UMUC or service to the larger community. The recipient of the president's medal will also have a record of professional or civic accomplishment, a reputation of high integrity, and a commitment to the advancement of lifelong learning.
  4. Commencement Speakers
    UMUC will invite distinguished members of the academic, business, technology, or civic communities to serve as the keynote speaker for each of its commencement ceremonies worldwide. Speakers will be selected on the basis of their professional and personal reputation, effectiveness as a public speaker, and ability to communicate an appropriate message to the graduates. The commencement keynote address is an integral part of the commencement ceremony; the commencement speaker contributes to the recognition of the accomplishments of the graduates and advancement of the reputation of UMUC.
  5. Process for Selection and Timeline
    1. The Provost will establish and chair a University Distinguished Awards Committee (UDAC). The UDAC will consist of the Assistant Vice President for Government, State and Community Relations, the Vice President for Institutional Advancement, the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, the Dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies, a Shared Governance representative of the University Advisory Council, the Vice President UMUC-Europe, the Vice President UMUC-Asia, and the Senior Executive Assistant to the President (staff to the committee.)
    2. The UDAC will insure that there is an appropriate and timely slate of nominations to recommend for receipt of the honorary degree, the President's Medal, and keynote speaker roles. to the President. The UDAC will solicit and review nominations and present a final list of recommendations to the President according to the following schedule:
      1. September 15—The Provost announces worldwide "Call for Nominations" for candidates for honorary degrees, the president's medal, and commencement speakers for all UMUC ceremonies worldwide.
      2. October 15—Deadline for nominations of commencement speakers. The Provost convenes the UDAC. The UDAC reviews nominations, screens and determines availability as well as appropriateness for a University honor.
      3. October 31—The UDAC forwards speaker recommendations to President for approval. Invitations extended to speakers.
      4. November 1—Deadline for all degree and medal nominations to the UDAC.
      5. December 1—The UDAC forwards recommendations to President. The Senior Executive Assistant to the President reviews the historical worldwide list of honorary degree recipients candidates that the Board of Regents had previously approved.
      6. December 15—The President submits the list of recommended candidates (and supporting documentation) for honorary degrees to the Chancellor, USM, who will forward them to the Board of Regents. The written recommendation to the USM will include the following information for each proposed honorary degree recipient:
        1. type of honorary degree to be awarded (Doctor of Humane Letters, Doctor of Laws, Doctor of Public Service, Doctor of Sciences);
        2. biographical sketch of the recipient;
        3. justification for the awarding of the degree; and
        4. probable date of award.
      7. February—The Board of Regents votes on the nominations for honorary degrees.
      8. May 30—The Senior Executive Assistant to the President updates the roster of UMUC honorary degree recipients.
  6. Confidentiality
    In accordance with standard practice at American institutions of higher learning, care should be taken to ensure strict confidentiality at all stages of the honorary degree process. In particular, there should be no communication with prospective degree recipients regarding a likely degree until after the Board of Regents has approved the award. After approval, the President may begin to arrange for the awarding of the degree. Approvals will remain confidential until the candidate is notified of his/her selection. Degrees may be conferred at any time within five years of approval, unless withdrawn by the Board of Regents for cause.
  Current Policy Prior Policy
Policy Number 080.00 080.00
Date 3/29/11 3/29/11