Honorary Degree Recipients

The following individuals have received honorary degrees, the highest honor bestowed by the University of Oregon.


Corazon Aquino (1994)

Corazon Aquino was the 11th president and first female president of the Philippines. Elected in 1986 and heralded as the heroine of the revolutionary People Power Movement, Aquino restored democracy in the Philippines after the long dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. The peaceful manner through which Aquino came into office drew international acclaim and admiration and also marked a paradigm shift for the Philippines into an era of democracy. Aquino was awarded an honorary doctorate of humanities in 1995 from UO when she visited to give the commencement speech. To commemorate her visit, three trees were planted in her name, the last one standing of which can be viewed at the West entrance to campus. Aquino was diagnosed with colon cancer and passed on August 1, 2009. She was known for her sense of humor, constitutional reforms, and her attention towards human rights.

Mark O. Hatfield (1996)

Mark O. Hatfield served as US Senator from Oregon for 30 years (longest tenure of any Oregonian Senator, 1967-1997) and also served as Oregon’s 16th Secretary of State and 29th Governor. He was a member of the Republican Party and also served in the US Navy during World War II from 1943-1947. Hatfield was one of the earliest and most prominent opponents of the Vietnam War and was a strong advocate for federal spending on medical research and bigger budgets for the National Institute of Health. He assisted in the formation of Oregon’s community college system and continually urged the country to focus more on world hunger and poverty. Hatfield also served as Dean of Students at Willamette University and was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from UO. He passed in August of 2011.

Helmuth Rilling (1999)

Helmuth Rilling was co-founder of the Oregon Bach Festival. The Festival was co-founded in 1970 with Royce Saltzman of the UO Music Faculty. The Oregon Bach Festival is an annual commemoration of the works by Johann Sebastian Bach and it is held every summer in Eugene. In 2001, Rilling won a Grammy award for best choral performance for the Festival’s world premiere recording of Krzysztof Penderecki’s piece, Credo. In 1999, Rilling was presented with an honorary doctorate from UO. Rilling was the first person in university history to have been honored with all three of its highest awards, including the Presidential medal and Distinguished Service Award.

Marian Wright Edelman (2001)

Marian Wright Edelman is renowned activist, founder, and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (founded in 1973). Edelman has been a life-long advocate for disadvantaged individuals, children, and families. She began her career mid-1960s as the first black woman admitted through the Mississippi Bar. Edelman also directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and has received over 100 honorary degrees and honors from universities and foundations worldwide, including the Heinz Award, MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, and United States Presidential Medal of Freedom. Edelman worked on racial justice issues and was deeply involved in the civil rights movement as a lawyer and activist.

In 2008, the University of Oregon bestowed honorary degrees to the following individuals who were students in 1942 when Executive Order 9066 ordered their evacuation to internment camps.

  • Chiye Arai
  • Midori Funatake
  • Mary Furusho
  • Frank Tadakazu Hachiya
  • Theodore Terumasa Hachiya
  • Thomas Chikara Hayashi
  • Woodrow Tsutoma Ichihashi
  • Kenji Inahara
  • Harold Kay Ito
  • Makoto McKinley Iwashita
  • Takuo Kawauchi
  • Alice Yoshie Kawasaki
  • Ellen Ogawa
  • Tadashi Melvyn Osaki
  • Samuel Teruhide Naito
  • Kenzo Nakagawa
  • Lawrence Fumio Takei
  • George Shingo Uchiyama
  • Robert Shu Yasui