Policy 080.00

Awarding of Honorary Degrees and Other Honors

Originator: Office of the President

Subject: Guidelines and Procedures for the Awarding of University Honorary Degrees, Administrator Emeritus status, 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, the University may recognize individuals for their significant contributions to their professions, the greater community, or the University through the awarding of honorary degrees and the President's Medal. Honorary degrees and the President's Medal will normally be awarded at the University's commencement ceremonies. The University will also invite notable guests to participate in the commencement ceremonies as keynote speakers.
    2. These guidelines and procedures are established to ensure that the identification, approval and invitation processes for all honorary degree recipients, administrator emeritus conferees, 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. The University 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. 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
    1. The President's Medal is awarded by the President on behalf of the University to recognize distinguished and extensive service on behalf of, and in support of, the University 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.  Administrator Emeritus Status
    1. The President shall have the discretion and authority to grant emeritus/a status on a former University administrator who has provided meritorious service to the University and continues as a valued member of the larger University community.
    2. The University administrators granted this status will be granted the following privileges:
      1. Administrators Emeriti may be invited to participate in University events, including commencements.
      2. Administrators Emeriti may be allowed to retain their University identification card. Because of military regulations and security, overseas administrators will not, however, be issued a Department of Defense (DOD) Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card and will not have access to military bases.
      3. Administrators Emeriti may be allowed to retain their University email addresses.
      4. Administrators Emeriti may be permitted to participate in any applicable staff purchase discounts.
      5. Administrators Emeriti may be provided with database access and borrowing privileges through the University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions Consortium of Libraries (USMAI).
  5. Commencement Speakers
    1. The University will invite distinguished members of the academic, business, technology, and/or civic communities to serve as 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 this academic convocation; the commencement speaker contributes to the recognition of the accomplishments of the graduates and advancement of the reputation of the University.
  6. Confidentiality
    1.  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.
  7. Implementation Procedures
    1. The University President has designated the Senior Vice President for the Office of Communications (OC) to administer this policy; to develop procedures as necessary to implement this policy; to communicate this policy to the University community; and to post the policy and any applicable procedures on the University website.
  Current Policy Prior Policy
Policy Number 080.00 080.00
Date 6/5/19 3/29/11