The honorary degree is the highest award conferred by the university. Honorary degrees are an extraordinary honor bestowed by the university president upon approval by the Board of Trustees, and must adhere to the following criteria as outlined in UO policy:
- To an individual or individuals who has/have shown outstanding scholarship or artistic achievement in their lifetime; or,
- To an individual or individuals who has/have performed extraordinary public service or contributions to society in their lifetime.
In addition to the criteria above, it is beneficial for an individual or individuals to have a connection to the University of Oregon, particularly for those who are to be considered for their public service and contribution to society.
Nominations for honorary degrees are reviewed by the Honorary Degrees and Distinguished Service Awards Committee and approved by the University Senate, president, and Board of Trustees following the process below. Once a nominee has been confirmed, they are listed as a candidate for conferral and a time is scheduled for them to receive their honorary degree, typically during the university's main commencement ceremony.
Honorary Degree Recipients
In 2017, UO President Michael Schill announced that the university would revive the practice of awarding honorary degrees as a way to highlight and show gratitude to those who have made transformative and lasting impacts through scholarship, the arts, or public service. Since then, several individuals have been nominated and awarded honorary degrees with additional nominations being submitted and considered by the university.
Conferred during the 2022 Commencement Ceremony
Phillip H. Knight
Conferred during the 2020 virtual Commencement Ceremony
The committee will actively solicit nominations for individuals who meet the criteria once each academic year, typically during the fall. However, nominations are welcome at any point. Nominations may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submissions must include:
- A completed honorary degree nomination form.
- A summary statement, not to exceed two typed pages, articulating why the nominee meets the criteria set forth in the policy, nominee’s resume, curriculum vitae, or similar document articulating the individual’s professional or personal accomplishments and achievements and additional supporting documents may be provided to the committee for consideration.
The honorary degree program is led by the Honorary Degrees and Distinguished Service Awards Committee, which includes the following members:
- President of the University of Oregon or his/her designee, who shall be chair;
- Chairperson of the Faculty Advisory Council (FAC) or his/her designee from the FAC;
- President of the University Senate or his/her designee from among University Senators;
- Chairperson of the Graduate Council or his/her designee from the Graduate Council;
- Chairperson of the Undergraduate Council or his/her designee from the Undergraduate Council;
- Vice President for University Advancement or his/her designee;
- Five members of the teaching faculty, appointed by the president in consultation with University Senate leadership; and,
- President of the Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO) or his/her designee from the ASUO Executive Team.
The committee is responsible for the screening, investigation, and recommendation of candidates. The committee makes a recommendation to the University Senate, which in turn makes a recommendation to the university president. The president may then forward up to two nominees each academic year to the Board of Trustees for final consideration.
Nominations for honorary degrees are reviewed by the Honorary Degrees and Distinguished Service Awards Committee and approved by the University Senate, president, and Board of Trustees.
2020-2021 Honorary Degrees and Distinguished Service Awards Committee Members
Carlyn Schreck, Associate Vice President for Presidential Initiatives, Office of the President, ExOfficio
Lynn Stephen, Professor of Anthropology, College of Art and Sciences, Faculty Advisory Council Chair, ExOfficio
Elliot Berkman, Professor of Psychology, College of Art and Sciences, University Senate President, ExOfficio
Robin Clement, Director, Master of Accounting Program; Senior Lecturer, Lundquist College of Business, Graduate Council Chair, ExOfficio
Jana Prikryl, Senior Instructor and General Science Director, Biology, College of Art and Sciences, Undergraduate Council Chair, ExOfficio
Jeff Brown, Associate Director of Stewardship, University Advancement, ExOfficio
Isaiah Boyd, President, Associated Students of the University of Oregon, ExOfficio
Angela Davis, Professor of Accounting, Lundquist College of Business
Alexandre Dossin, Professor of Piano, School of Music and Dance
Brian Gillis, Associate Professor of Art, College of Design
Paul Peppis, Professor of English, College of Art and Sciences
Merle Weiner, Professor of Law, School of Law