D14.0 Policy on Awarding Honorary Degrees

I. Process

The Rochester Institute of Technology, through its board of trustees, confers honorary degrees. Nominations are received by the board from its University Relations Committee. Nominations of individuals for receipt of a degree will be reviewed by the committee in late October (for board action at its November meeting) and in late March (for board action at its April meeting). Exceptions to this schedule may be made when deemed necessary by the committee because of unusual circumstances.

A Faculty Honorary Degree Committee, chaired by the provost, will be appointed by the provost, in consultation with the chair of the Faculty Senate. The committee is charged with reviewing all nominations. Each faculty member will serve a three-year term on the Faculty Committee. Terms will be staggered to provide continuity.

Members of the board, faculty, staff and administration are invited to submit nominations for consideration to the Faculty Committee through its chairperson.

Complete, supporting biographical data are required before a nomination is considered.

The Faculty Committee forwards its recommendations on all nominees to the president. The president may reject a recommendation or support it. The president's recommendations for granting honorary degrees will be forwarded to the University Relations Committee of the board of trustees, which will make its recommendations to the full board. Names of nominees and supporting materials must be received by the Secretary of the Institute for transmittal to the University Relations Committee three weeks in advance of its meeting.

The board authorizes that the honorary degree be conferred. Therefore, approval of the recommendations by the full board of trustees is required.

The process must be completely confidential until action is taken by the board of trustees and the president has secured the acceptance of the recipient. No publicity is to be given until the acceptance has been received.The candidate must be present in person, normally on the RIT campus, to receive the degree.

The University Relations Committee of the board of trustees will periodically review with the full board of trustees the university's goals for awarding honorary degrees and the criteria to be met by honorary degree candidates.

II. Guidelines

RIT will award honorary degrees sparingly.

Members of the paid academic/nonacademic professional staff are not eligible.

Ordinarily, an honorary degree would not be conferred on an active trustee. Honorary trustees would be eligible.

Special attention should be given to candidates who have achieved outstanding success in fields that are closely related to the educational objectives of the university.

Proposed recipients should manifest the basic ideals of good citizenship and personal integrity that would reflect well on the university.

A candidate for an honorary degree at RIT should meet two or more of the following criteria:

  1. Has achieved national recognition.

  2. Has made an outstanding contribution to society, either through personal or professional accomplishments.

  3. Has made a significant contribution to his/her professional field.

  4. Has had a significant impact on the development and advancement of RIT.

  5. Has achieved distinction in the public service, through elective or appointed office.

While national or international recognition may be considered in the selection, the emphasis in the selection process is on professional or academic success, distinctive public service and/or the individual's contribution to the university and its reputation. Special attention is given to those who have achieved outstanding success in fields that are related to the educational objectives of the university. Candidates should embody the basic ideals of personal integrity and good citizenship that the university seeks to foster.

Responsible Office:
Office of the President

Effective Date:
Approved March 31, 1994 

Policy History: 
Last revised June 12, 1996
Edited September 2010