Honorary Degrees

University Policy: 


The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Board of Trustees is responsible for approving the names of individuals on whom it is proposed that an honorary degree or other honorary or memorial distinction be conferred by the institution.  The authority of the Board of Trustees is subject to such policies as may be established by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.  The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees is assigned the responsibility for consideration of names and recommending to the Board for its approval any special honors and awards such as honorary degrees.

A degree honoris causa may be conferred by UNC Charlotte on any individual judged to merit such special recognition because of scholarly or creative attainments, distinguished public service or extraordinary and distinctive service to the University.  The number of persons receiving an honorary degree at any degree-granting ceremony (customarily commencement) is necessarily limited to enable personal recognition of the honorees' achievements.  Degrees typically awarded are the Doctor of Laws (LL.D.), the Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.), and the Doctor of Public Service (D.P.S.).  The honorary degree shall not be awarded in absentia unless otherwise specified in this policy.

Nominations, Honors, and Awards Committee

The Nominations, Honors, and Awards Committee is charged by the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor with the collection and screening of nominations for honorary degrees.  The Nominations, Honors, and Awards Committee shall solicit nominees from the University community including Trustees, the Chancellor, the faculty, alumni, staff and the president of the student body.  The Committee will then forward to the Chancellor a list of nominees with its evaluation of the nominees as to their worthiness of the award of the honorary degree.

Criteria for Selection of Candidate 

  1. exceptional and distinctive achievements on behalf of  the University, the region, state or nation;
  2. state, national or international esteem because of activities recognized as significant in higher education;
  3. eminent achievement in scholarship, high distinction in public affairs, outstanding accomplishments in humanitarian endeavors or artistic attainment;
  4. high qualities of character and personal reputation;
  5. not currently employed by UNC Charlotte;
  6. former faculty and staff eligible if they have achieved distinction in a second career or in work unrelated to their university positions;
  7. merit rather than popularity.

Procedure for Nomination of Candidates 

  1. The Nominations, Honors, and Awards Committee shall annually request nominations for honorary degrees from the University community.  The requests shall be made no later than October 15, and shall include but not be limited to requests to the Trustees, the Chancellor, the Faculty Council, the President of the Staff Organization, the President of the Alumni Association, the Chairman of the UNC Charlotte Foundation and the President of Student Government.  The Committee may receive documented recommendations from any member of the University community.
  2. Nominations shall include the full names of the nominee and the nominator, a vita of the nominee and a statement of the rationale for the nomination and shall be submitted to the Chair of the Nominations, Honors, and Awards Committee.
  3. Confidentiality must be maintained in the nomination process.  Only the most outstanding nominees can be honored.  Therefore, it is critical that the nominee not be made aware of their nomination.  Efforts to solicit public support for a nominee will be counterproductive.
  4. The Nominations, Honors, and Awards Committee shall review all nominations and evaluate the candidates as to their worthiness of the award of the honorary degree.  The Committee shall then present the list of nominees and evaluative information to the Chancellor no later than August 1 (for Fall Commencement) and December 1 (for Spring Commencement).
  5. The Chancellor shall forward the list of nominees and accompanying information, with any additional evaluation and comments he/she wishes to provide, to the chair of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees for its review and consideration.
  6. The names and evaluations of those nominees who have been reviewed by the Nominations, Honors, and Awards Committee shall be maintained in a pool of candidates from which the Executive Committee may recommend candidates to the Board of Trustees for final approval.
  7. Candidates may remain in the pool for a maximum of three years.  After which time, the candidates shall be removed from the pool.
  8. The Chancellor shall inform the Nominations, Honors, and Awards Committee of the Trustees' decision(s) prior to public announcement.
  9. In the event of the death of a nominee after the Board of Trustees has given final approval of the award, a posthumous award of the honorary degree may be bestowed by the Chancellor. A designee shall represent the recipient at the award ceremony. 
Revision History: 
  • Revised May 30, 1997
  • Revised April 6, 2009
  • Updated September 21, 2016
  • Updated July 19, 2021

Authority: Board of Trustees

Responsible Office: Academic Affairs

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