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220.030 Honorary Degrees

Bd. Min. 4-7-67, p. 33, 191; Bd. Min. 10-12-73, p. 36,842; Amended Bd. Min. 2-12-82; Bd. Min. 6-19-87, 3-18-93; Amended Bd. Min 12-13-96; 5-26-05; Amended Bd. Min. 12-7-12; Amended Bd. Min. 2-9-17; Amended Bd. Min. 2-7-19.

  1. General Guidelines
    1. Purpose of Honorary Degrees. The honorary doctorate degree is the highest form of recognition offered by the University of Missouri to persons of exceptional distinction. The purposes of honorary degrees awarded by the University include:
      1. To recognize excellence in the fields of degrees authorized at universities within the University of Missouri System, as well as in the areas of business, philanthropy, public affairs and public service which exemplify the mission and purposes of the University.
      2. To honor meritorious and outstanding service to the University, the State of Missouri, the United States, or to humanity at large.
      3. To recognize individuals whose lives and significant achievements serve as examples of the University’s aspirations for its diverse student body.
      4. To elevate the University in the eyes of the world by honoring individuals who are widely known and highly regarded for their achievements.
    2. Criteria for Selection of Degree Recipients:
      1. The basis for the selection of a degree recipient shall be consistent with the Purposes of Honorary Degrees stated above.
      2. The nominee must be distinguished, and the person’s achievements must be both relevant and appropriate to the nominating university.  Eligibility for nomination is restricted to persons of exceptional state, national or international stature.
      3. The nominee should have a connection with the university or the University of Missouri System.  Nominees may be alumni.  The nominee could have participated in university-based programs, partnered in scholarly or creative activity with its faculty or students, or assisted the university with programmatic development.  Furthermore, the connection could be national or international prominence in a particular discipline in which the university has a program.  Alternatively, the nominee may have achieved recognized national or international prominence in their field.
      4. Substantive service to the University of Missouri System or the particular university is not sufficient justification for an honorary degree if the individual does not meet the other criteria for honorary degrees; in these instances, a university award is recommended.
      5. Honorary degrees shall not be awarded to active members of the University governing board, administration, faculty or staff for career distinction achieved at the University, nor to political officials unless retired from political life.
      6. An individual already holding an honorary degree from the University shall not be eligible to receive a second honorary degree.
    3. Authority to Approve Honorary Degrees. The authority to award honorary degrees rests with the Board of Curators. 
    4. Limitations on Number of Honorary Degree Nominations. In any given year, the maximum number of nominations that may be submitted for consideration by the Board of Curators is five from each university. The process will be conducted annually unless deemed necessary by the UM System President. Prior to public announcement by the President and Chancellor, all matters relating to honorary degrees are treated as confidential.
    5. Site of conferral of degree. Honorary degrees may be conferred during the nominating university’s commencement exercises or, after approval, at other appropriate ceremonies. Should an individual be unable to accept the degree in the year the degree is offered, the degree may be conferred at a later time, but not later than five years from the date of Board approval.
    6. Status of degree presentations. The Secretary of the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri shall maintain a permanent record of previous honorary degree recipients. The Secretary shall also maintain a current pending list of individuals who have been selected to receive an honorary degree but who have not yet been presented with the degree.
    7. Duplicate nominations. Nominees submitted by two or more UM universities must be adjudicated by the UM System President.
    8. Award in absentia. Any honorary degree shall not be awarded in absentia or posthumously unless specifically recommended by the faculty and approved by the President and the Board of Curators.
    9. Revocation of Honorary Degree. The Board of Curators, on the recommendation of the Faculty Senate or Faculty Council of the relevant university and the Chancellor and President, may revoke the Honorary Degree of a person after consideration of documented evidence that the individual has engaged in activities that are incompatible with the honor. An honoree will be given notice and the opportunity to respond to the proposed revocation. 
  2. Procedures for Selection of Degree Recipients:
    1. To the extent permitted by law, the Board requires that confidentiality be strictly maintained throughout the process as a matter of professional courtesy to the candidates.
    2. Where to send Nominations for Honorary Degrees:
      1. Any member of the University community, including faculty, administrative staff, students, alumni and alumnae, members of advisory councils, Curators and friends of the University, may nominate a qualified individual for an honorary degree. Nominations should be completed using the nomination form. 
      2. All nominations should be submitted to the university’s Faculty Council/Senate. The Faculty Council/Senate will refer the nomination(s) to the university’s committee that reviews honorary degrees, which is designated to review the nomination(s) and make recommendations to the Chancellor. 
      3. Nominations originating from other sources within the wider University community should be referred to the appropriate university. If it is unclear which university the nomination should go to, the President will determine the appropriate location.  
      4. The UM System Honors Committee will review all nomination packets and submit its recommendations to the President, who will add the President’s own recommendations and forward the packets to the Board of Curators for final consideration.
      5. A positive recommendation in each step of the process is required to move the nominee forward in the review process.
    3. Honorary Degree Review Committees:
      1. Campus Review Committee. A Campus Faculty Committee (CFC) is appointed by each Chancellor to review nominations and make recommendations first to the Faculty Senate or Faculty Council and then to the Chancellor. The CFC is composed of faculty and may also include representatives from other constituencies.
      2. UM System Honors Committee. The Honors Committee is appointed to receive nominations from the Chancellors and the President, review the packets to ensure they are complete and comply with criteria and make award recommendations to the President. The Honors Committee shall be composed of representatives from each of the following categories: faculty, staff, student, community and Curators. The committee composition will represent all four universities.

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