No: S-30

Date: April 8, 1988-Reg. Res 4035
(Original, April 7, 1972,
Regent Resolution 140)

Authority: UWS UPG #11 and
                  Regent Resolutions 4035--Rev.


Consistent with national practice (and the maturation which has occurred since merger within the University of Wisconsin System), the Board of Regents now extends to the eleven regional universities the authority to bestow honorary doctoral degrees on individuals of exceptional accomplishment and distinction who have made significant contributions to the university, region, state or nation; or within their field of endeavor. Each of the universities may award such honorary degrees each year beginning with the 1988-89 academic year, subsequent to approval by the board, of each institution's written standards, criteria, and procedures for awarding honorary degrees. Existing or revised policies and procedures must now be submitted for board approval. No institution is obligated to award honorary degrees under this policy.

Honorary degree designations shall be limited to the following: A) Doctor of Laws (LL.D.), B) Doctor of Science (SC.D.), C) Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.), and D) Doctor of Humanities (D.H.), with the exception that the University of Wisconsin - Stout may grant an honorary Doctor of Vocational Education (D.V.E.). As doctoral institutions, UW - Madison and UW - Milwaukee are authorized to award occasional highly specialized degrees as best reflect the recipient's accomplishments.


Each university shall have an Honorary Degree Committee for which the function is to consider and recommend candidates for honorary degrees consistent with procedures, policies and criteria developed at each institution and approved by the chancellor and the Board of Regents. The University of Wisconsin System president and the chancellor of the institution shall be ex-officio members of these committees.

Board approval must be obtained at least two months prior to the commencement at which the degree is to be conferred. For a spring commencement the nominations must be received for first reading by the board in February, and for a winter commencement they must be received not later than the October board meeting.

As a matter of policy the board will limit to one the number of honorary degrees any individual may receive from the UW System, therefore, the chairpersons of the several committees shall develop an informal information exchange protocol to avoid duplication of nominees.
Particular attention should be devoted to the identification of women and minority candidates for consideration for honorary degrees.

Each chancellor, conjointly with the UW System president, will recommend nominees to the board.

All activities related to the nomination of candidates, the review of documentation supporting each nominee, and recommendations to the board must be conducted with a confidentiality appropriate to personnel matters.

Upon board approval of the institutional nominees for honorary doctorates, the chancellor invites the candidates to attend the commencement convocation at which the award is to be conferred. Honorary degrees are not awarded in absentia.

To insulate the honorary degree from partisanship, to protect the award from possible conflicts and to protect nominees from possible compromising positions, the following three categories of individuals are ineligible for an honorary degree from an institution of the University of Wisconsin System:

a)     Public Officials and Political Appointees

Included are serving members of the Wisconsin Legislature and the Wisconsin congressional delegation; elected and appointed officials; and all members of the state judiciary.

b)    Regents

Included are serving members of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.

c)    University of Wisconsin System Employees

Included are currently employed faculty or staff at each university and in UW System Administration.

Persons in any of these three categories could be eligible for consideration two years or more after they have vacated office or terminated employment. However, emeritus faculty are not eligible for honorary degrees unless they have achieved distinction in a second career following retirement.

In awarding honorary degrees, the University of Wisconsin System does not assume any legal obligations. Recipients receive no honoraria, but the institution shall assume all expenses associated with the recipients participation in the commencement.