Honorary Degree Nomination

Honorary Degree Recipients

What do such notables as the Honorable Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Coretta Scott King, Elie Wiesel, Christiane Amanpour, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Jesse Jackson, Lyndon B. Johnson, Aaron Copland, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Margaret Chase Smith have in common? They all are among an elite group of individuals who have been awarded honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Rhode Island.

Each year the URI Honorary Degree Committee invites community members to nominate candidates for honorary degrees to be conferred at the Commencement Ceremonies. The Honorary Degree recipients are those who have distinguished themselves through important contributions to the University, to the State of Rhode Island, or to the nation — individuals who deserve to be honored by the University and who will bring honor to the University by accepting a URI degree.

The Nomination Process

The Honorary Degree Committee considers nominations received each year from the University community and the public. The Committee then submits a list of nominees to the president, who forwards his choices to the Rhode Island Board of Education. Individuals approved to receive their doctoral degrees, honoris causa, with all the rights and privileges pertaining to it. One of the nominees may be considered by the president and invited as a keynote speaker.

To nominate an honorary degree candidate:

  • Review eligibility criteria.
  • Complete the honorary degree nomination form.
  • Gather background information on your nominee.
  • Submit the nomination form and all other information to the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

For more information, call the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at 401.874.4410.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Persons to be recognized will have attained outstanding academic, professional, and/or civic stature through their accomplishments and contributions;
  • Persons to be recognized for their outstanding accomplishments should have a demonstrated connection to the mission and values of The University of Rhode Island and/or have made important contributions to the State of Rhode Island;
  • Persons receiving an Honorary Degree from URI must appear in person at the Main Commencement Ceremony (Note – in rare situations the University may award an Honorary Degree posthumously);
  • Nominees for a URI Honorary Degree must not be a current employee of the University or actively holding political office in or representing Rhode Island.

A Note About Confidentiality

The Committee recommends and asks that the names of candidates who have been nominated remain confidential. Their names should only be known to those who write letters of reference on behalf of the nominated candidate. When the process is complete, the Honorary Degree recipients are announced by the president to the University community and the media.

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