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Nominations for 2021 honorary degrees sought

Distinctive honor awarded to individuals of special merit, distinction and outstanding achievement

Honorary degree, nomination, 2021

icon of a calendarMonday, March 1, 2021

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The Honorary Degree Committee invites nominations for honorary degrees to be conferred by Oakland University in 2021. Honorary degrees will be awarded only to individuals of special merit, distinction and outstanding achievement. Through this process, Oakland University reaffirms its scholarly, creative and humanitarian values, as well as its ties to the wider community.

Recent honorees have included:

  • CEO of Zaman International Najah Bazzy;
  • Chernobyl photographer David McMillan;
  • Butzel Long Director of Innovation and External Relations Beth Gotthelf;
  • CEO of TTi Global Lori Blaker;
  • President and CEO of Detroit’s Neighborhood Service Organization Sheilah Clay;
  • retired ballet dancer and full-time philanthropist Joanne Danto;
  • founder and President of Gibbs Planning Group Robert J. Gibbs;
  • award-winning actress Jayne Houdyshell; and
  • Noble Prize in Physics recipient J. Michael Kosterlitz.

A complete list of OU honorary degrees is available on the Provost’s web section.

Honorary degrees are awarded to individuals who have been selected according to the criteria and procedures outlined below:

  • Eligibility is open to all except current employees of Oakland University.
  • Exemplary candidates are those with records of outstanding achievements in areas such as academe, business and government, or civic, cultural, humanitarian, or public affairs. 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.
  • Nomination materials should include a cover letter together with supporting documentation that might help the committee make a recommendation to the Provost and the President. Letters should include a clear statement of the nominee’s outstanding achievements that justify conferral of the honorary degree. Nominations from such traditionally underrepresented groups as minorities and women are especially welcomed and encouraged.
  • Initial screening of the candidates for honorary degrees will be conducted by the Honorary Degree Committee. Nominators may be contacted by the committee and asked to assist in providing additional biographical material and supporting documentation. The Board of Trustees confers honorary degrees based on the work of the screening committee, and the recommendations made by the Provost and the President.

Those interested in submitting nominating materials should do so by Friday, April 1, 2021, using the online nomination form. Those with questions about the nomination process should contact Honorary Degree Committee Chair Cynthia Miree at

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