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The University of Tennessee

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Honorary Degrees


Policy and Procedures on Honorary Degrees

The Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee (UT) authorizes the awarding of honorary degrees to recognize individuals who have benefited the institution or society through outstanding achievements or leadership. The Board of Trustees has put forth criteria to guide campuses in nominating and considering candidates for honorary degrees. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, (UTK) shall adhere to the policy as set out in the following procedures:

NOTE: University of Tennessee policy statements are italic font; UTK procedures are normal font.

A.  Each campus of the University of Tennessee may award up to three honorary degrees each year.

B.  University employees shall not be eligible for nomination during their employment. In addition, elected officials and University of Tennessee Trustees shall not be eligible for nomination prior to completion of their terms of service.

C.  Each campus shall develop specific procedures for nominating and considering honorary degrees recipients. As a minimum, campus procedures shall include the following provisions:

  1. A nominating committee shall be comprised of faculty (selected by the faculty governing body), the Chancellor/Provost, and the Chair of the Academic Programs and Planning Committee of the Board of Trustees.
    1. The Honorary Degree Nominating Committee (hereafter referred to as Nominating Committee) shall consist of the UTK Chancellor, the Chair of the Academic Programs and Planning Committee of the UT Board of Trustees, and five tenured faculty members selected as needed by the Executive Committee or Council of the UTK Faculty Senate.
    2. The faculty members of the Nominating Committee will be appointed for a term of one year.
    3. The Chair of the Nominating Committee shall be elected by the committee membership from among the serving faculty members.
  2. The nominating committee will receive and screen nominations and recommend candidates to a special committee of the faculty governing body.
    1. The process for nominating candidates will be available through the UTK website (Chancellor’s Office) and nominations can be received at any time. Nominators must hold a current faculty appointment with UTK. Nominations should be sent to the Office of the Chancellor on the UTK campus and addressed to the Chair of the Honorary Degree Nominating Committee. All complete nominations must include:
      1. A letter from the nominator and supporting documentation detailing why the candidate is worthy of an honorary degree from UTK
      2. The candidate’s CV or a biographical statement
      3. At least three names and contact information of individuals who may be solicited for letters of recommendation
      4. The nominator’s relationship with the candidate, including any potential or perceived conflicts of interest
    2. The Nominating Committee shall consider all complete nomination packets.
    3. The Nominating Committee will consider individuals who have distinguished themselves in the areas of teaching, research, or service. Achievements of national or international significance, or outstanding and sustained service to our state or community, should be the overriding criterion for all candidates.
    4. Financial contributions to UTK or UT, or prior service as an elected official, shall not be the sole deciding factor in the nominations process.
    5. The name and supporting documents of any candidate recommended to receive an honorary degree from UTK by at least a two-thirds vote of the membership of the Nominating Committee shall be submitted to the chair of the Graduate Council, who will form a Special Committee (see Section 3.1 below) for the unit that best matches the achievements of the candidate.
    6. The Chair of the Nominating Committee will send a letter to the nominator of any candidate not recommended. Candidates may be reconsidered upon re-nomination.
    7. All members of the Committee are required to function in a confidential manner, respecting the privacy of all candidates; including those recommended and those not recommended.
  3. Upon concurring with a recommendation by the nominating committee, the special committee will submit the candidate to the Chancellor/Provost for consideration.
    1. For each candidate, the Special Committee will consist of five individuals:  the head of the department in which the degree is recommended, the Provost and three tenured faculty members who are not on the nominating committee and who are appointed by the chair of the Graduate Council. The chair of the Graduate Council will appoint the chair of this Special Committee.
    2. Based on the candidate’s merits and compliance with the UT Board of Trustees’ policy and UTK procedures, the Special Committee will vote whether or not to concur with the recommendations of the Nominating Committee.
    3. If four or more members of the committee vote to approve the candidate, the name and application of that candidate shall be submitted to the Chancellor for consideration.
    4. All members of the Committee are required to function in a confidential manner, respecting the privacy of all candidates; those selected and those not selected.
  4. Upon approval, the Chancellor/Provost will submit the candidate to the President for consideration.
    1. The UTK Chancellor, provided s/he approves the candidate, shall notify the candidate to ascertain their willingness to accept the honorary degree and their availability to attend commencement exercises.
  5. Upon approval, the President will submit the candidate to the Board of Trustees for consideration.

D.  The Board of Trustees will make the final decision to award an honorary degree.

E.  The University expects honorary degree recipients to participate fully in commencements exercises, but exceptions will be made for extenuating circumstances.

 

 

Dr. Howard Baker

Howard Baker received the first honorary doctorate awarded by the University of Tennessee in 2005