To guide its work, the Committee on Honorary Degrees has adopted the following criteria for reviewing nominations:
Honorary degrees at Northwestern are awarded to those who:
- Distinguished themselves in the fields of teaching, learning, research, writing, and performance in the arts; or to those who have achieved distinction through their special contributions to society at large or more specifically to Northwestern University and our community.
- Achieved national or international significance. This should be the overriding criterion for all recipients, except those who are being honored for exceptional service to our community. All recipients of Honorary Degrees will lend distinction to Northwestern University.
- Accomplished cutting edge discoveries in their field at the time of selection. Special efforts should be made to identify these candidates.
- Graduated from Northwestern. It behooves the University to recognize the distinction of its own graduates.
- Are outside of the immediate campus community. As a matter of course, current members of the faculty at Northwestern or those who have retired from the faculty are not normally considered, nor are the members of the Board of Trustees or of the University administration, except in the case of a retiring president or chairman of the Board.
- Are ethically considered. Care should be taken to ensure that the awarding of a degree does not appear to be politically motivated.
- Represent an inclusive community. Consistent with Northwestern’s commitment to diversity, the Committee strongly advocates consideration of women and members of underrepresented, marginalized, or oppressed groups.
Each spring the faculty Committee on Honorary Degrees seeks nominations for the following year. Any person may make a nomination. Nominations should include a:
- letter of recommendation stating, in some detail, the reasons for the nomination
- curriculum vitae or brief biography statement (if readily available)
Broad support from a department or group of faculty will strengthen the nomination. The quality of the supporting materials is very important, since the members of the Committee cannot be assumed to have independent knowledge of each candidate's achievements. The materials submitted serve as a basis for evaluating the qualifications of a nomination.
Materials should be sent via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by postal delivery to:Committee on Honorary Degrees
Office of the Provost, Rebecca Crown Center633 Clark St.Evanston, IL 60208
Nominating letters should be received no later than May 1 of the year prior to the year in which the degree might be awarded.
Review and Approval of Nominations
Recommendations of the Committee on Honorary Degrees are reviewed and voted on by the Faculty Senate in late spring. The Senate then transmits its recommendations to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees for final approval. Once the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees approves the recommendations from the Faculty Senate, formal invitations are issued to the individuals. The final decision of the Honorary Degrees recipients to invite for the Commencement ceremony will be made by the President. Any other approved names who are not invited during the year they were nominated will carry forward to the following year for full consideration.
Honorary Degrees are conferred at Commencement ceremonies. Recipients must be present in order to receive the award.