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Honorary Degree

Purpose and History
Harvard was the first university to confer honorary degrees in 1692.  Since then it has become a recognized function of degree granting institutions.  Honorary degrees are an opportunity for universities to single out people who have made contribution to society.  At OU, honorary degree recipients are nominated by the OU community and beyond. The University Senate Honorary Degrees Committee reviews nominations for the honorary degree.  It then recommends candidates to the provost (Senate Chair) and then to the president.

From time to time Oakland University honors distinguished individuals of outstanding achievement by conferring honorary degrees. In doing so the University reaffirms its scholarly, creative and humanitarian values and its ties to the wider community. Honorary degrees are awarded only to the individuals who have been selected according to the criteria and procedures outlined below.

Eligibility and Criteria
No current employee of Oakland University may receive an honorary degree but eligibility is otherwise unrestricted. Thus recipients may be drawn from persons with records of accomplishment in such areas as academe, business, government, the professions, or civic, cultural, humanitarian, or public affairs. To receive an honorary degree, an individual should have a record of outstanding achievement within one or more of the areas previously identified. Examples of such achievements include original and creative accomplishments within one or more academic disciplines or significant contributions to humankind’s intellectual, cultural, commercial, aesthetic, social, or civic betterment. Honorary degrees will be awarded only on an occasional basis to individuals of special merit. Consequently, the number and frequency of such awards should reflect their distinctive character.

The Board of Trustees confers honorary degrees. Prior to conferring such degrees, it is the desire of the University Senate that the Board seek the recommendation of the university community through the Honorary Degree Screening Committee, the Senate Steering Committee and the President in the manner described below.

Initial screening of candidates for honorary degrees shall be done by an Honorary Degree Screening Committee. This committee will be a Senate standing committee and will consist of six faculty members and the Vice-President for Academic Affairs (or designee), who will act as chair. The six faculty members will be appointed to staggered three-year terms by the Senate upon nomination by the Steering Committee.

Each fall the committee will invite nominations from all members of the university community. Letters of nomination should include a clear statement of the outstanding achievements of the individual that justify the conferral of the degree. Nominators may be contacted by the committee and asked to assist in providing additional biographical material and supporting documentation. In addition to receiving nominations and additional materials from the community, the committee may also solicit letters of nomination and develop additional leads. Nominations from such traditionally underrepresented groups as minorities and women are especially welcomed and encouraged. In developing its recommendations the committee may consult with other individuals or offices internal or external to the campus, as appropriate.

For complete guidelines on nominations, please review the Nominations for Honorary Degree Memo.
See the Honorary Degree Recipients 1963 to Present for a list of past recipients.
Honorary Degree Recipients
2010s
2017
James A. Sharp, Jr., Doctor of Humanities

2016
Ron A. May, Doctor of Science

2016
Patti Finnegan Sharf, Doctor of Humanities

2016
Curt Tofteland, Doctor of Humanities

2015
Florine Mark, Doctor of Humanities

2015
Nancy Elliott, Doctor of Humanities

2015
Joseph Travolta, Doctor of Arts

2015
Ann V. Nicholson, Doctor of Humanities

2015
Mary Fisher, Doctor of Humanities

2014
Lana Pollack, Doctor of Laws

2014
Terry M. Blackhawk, Doctor of Humanities

2014
Gebran S. Anton, Doctor of Science

2013
Sergio Marchionne, Doctor of Science

2013
Baroness Caroline Cox, Doctor of Humanities

2012
Grace Lee Boggs, Doctor of Humanities

2011
R. Hugh Elliott, Doctor of Science

2011
Margaret Allesee, Doctor of Humanities

2000s
2009
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam ,Doctor of Science

2008
N.R. Narayana Murthy, Doctor of Science

2007
Henry W. (Hank) Jones, Jr., Doctor of Humanities
Stephan Sharf, Doctor of Science

2004
Doris Eaton Travis, Doctor of Humanities
Carl Levin, Doctor of Laws

2003
Gordon England, Doctor of Science
Ashley Bryan, Doctor of Humanities

2002
William G. Milliken, Doctor of Laws
Eugene A. Miller, Doctor of Humanities
C. R. Rao, Doctor of Science

2001
Damon Jerome Keith, Doctor of Laws
David DiChiera, Doctor of Arts
Thomas Lynch, Doctor of Humanities

1990s
1998
John M. Engler, Doctor of Laws
Howard Birndorf, Doctor of Science

1980s

1986
G. Mennen Williams, Doctor of Laws

1984
James J. Blanchard, Doctor of Laws
Marvin L. Katke, Doctor of Humanities

1980
Jin H. Kinoshita, Doctor of Science
Helen G. Kyes, Doctor of Humanities
Donald D. O’Dowd, Doctor of Laws
Florine Trumbull, Doctor of Humanities


1970s
1979
Harry Bober, Doctor of Humanities
Harold A. Cousins, Doctor of Laws
Kenneth A. Meade, Doctor of Science
Lew Ayres, Doctor of Humanities

1974
Wade H. McCree, Jr., Doctor of Laws
Benjamin H. Anibal, Doctor of Laws
Charles O. Hucker, Doctor of Humanities
Edward J. Lundy, Doctor of Laws

1973
Leonard Woodcock, Doctor of Laws
Gifford Scott, Doctor of Science
Sixten Ehrling, Doctor of Musical Arts
Theodore Yntema, Doctor of Laws
Leonard Spearman, Doctor of Laws
N. L. Meredith, Doctor of Laws

1972
Lorene L. Rogers, Doctor of Science
Theordore J. Lowi, Doctor of Humanities
Clifford L. Goad, Doctor of Laws

1971
Myron Tribus, Doctor of Science
Clifton R. Wharton, Doctor of Humanities
C.L.R. James, Doctor of Humanities
William H. Baldwin Doctor of Laws

1970
Durward Belmont Varner, Doctor of Humanities

1960s
1969
Henry Samuel Broudy, Doctor of Humanities
John Alfred Hannah, Doctor of Humanities|
Walter P. Reuther, Doctor of Laws

1968
Oscar Handlin, Doctor of Humanities

1967
William Thomas Gossett, Doctor of Laws
Thomas Hale Hamilton, Doctor of Humanities
David Riesman, Doctor of Humanities

1966
Roger M. Kyes, Doctor of Laws
Franklin Stahl, Doctor of Science
Matthew S. Meselson, Doctor of Science
R. Sargent Shriver, Doctor of Laws

1965
John V. Lindsay, Doctor of Laws
Meyer Schapiro, Doctor of Humanities
Roy Wilkins, Doctor of Laws

1964
Stanley S. Kresge, Doctor of Laws
Logan Wilson, Doctor of Laws

1963
Harold A. Fitzgerald, Doctor of Laws
Francis Keppel, Doctor of Laws
Matilda R. Wilson, Doctor of Humanities