This page contains important information about policies and procedures for honorary degrees. Please carefully review this information before submitting a nomination. A link to the nomination form is at the end of the section on the nomination and selection process.
About Honorary Degrees
An honorary degree is the highest form of recognition offered by the University of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees authorizes the awarding of honorary degrees to recognize individuals who have benefited the institution or society through outstanding achievements or leadership.
- Each campus may award up to three honorary degrees each year.
- Honorary degrees awarded shall be doctoral degrees, with the specific title to be appropriate to the campus and the recipient. Honorary degree titles must not duplicate the title of any existing for-credit academic degree. The honorary degree title shall be included in the materials provided to the Board.
- All degrees, honorary and for-credit, are awarded by the Board, based on recommendations by the faculty of a specific campus. As such, it is possible for an individual to be nominated for and receive more than one honorary degree from the University. Any additional honorary degree shall, in most instances, be from a campus other than the first honorary degree. No recipient shall receive more than one honorary degree with the same specific title.
- All honorary degrees awarded shall be in the name of The University of Tennessee and shall adhere to the Diploma Guidelines.
- The University expects honorary degree recipients to participate fully in commencement exercises; however, exceptions may be made for extenuating circumstances.
- University employees shall not be eligible for nomination during their employment.
- Members of the UT Board of Trustees and elected officials shall not be eligible for nomination prior to completion of their terms of service.
Additional Eligibility Criteria
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville has established criteria in addition to the criteria described in the board policy:
- Typically, candidates will have connections to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, or to Tennessee and will have achievements of national or international significance, or outstanding and sustained service to our state or community. Extraordinary candidates without these connections will also be considered.
- Financial contributions to University of Tennessee, Knoxville, or prior service as an elected official, shall not be the sole deciding factor in the nominations process.
Nomination and Selection Process
Nominators must hold a current faculty appointment with UT. A faculty appointment includes any tenure-track or non-tenure-track appointment, whether full-time or part-time.
- The nominating committee will solicit nominations broadly from the campus community. Options to solicit nominations include issuing a call through campus, college, or departmental newsletters, stand-alone broadcast email, etc.
- Nominations will be submitted through a form located on the provost’s website. The form will require a UT NetID and password.
- Nominators must complete all information on the form and submit all required documentation. Incomplete nominations will not be considered.
|Form Information||Required Documentation|
|Nominee’s name and contact information||A letter from the nominator, including the honorary degree title they wish to award, the college that will award the degree, that the dean of the college is in agreement with the degree title, and supporting documentation detailing why the candidate is worthy of an honorary degree from UT. See nomination letter guidelines below.|
|Statement of nominator’s relationship to candidate, including any potential or perceived conflicts of interest||The candidate’s CV or a biographical statement|
|Name and, if possible, contact information of at least three individuals who, in the discretion of the chancellor, may be solicited for letters of recommendation.|
- The nominating committee will review nominations and recommend candidates, by majority vote, to the chancellor for consideration.
- Nominators may update information in their nomination after they submit it. The committee will evaluate whether or how to consider updated information.
- The chancellor’s office will check references for candidates.
- The Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor will send a letter to the nominator of any candidate not recommended. Candidates may be reconsidered upon re-nomination.
A member of the Office of the Provost Staff may review nominations for compliance with the technical specifications of a nomination. It is recommended to have gathered all needed materials before submitting a nomination.
Nomination Letter Guidelines
Nomination letters should, at minimum, meet the following criteria.
- Letters should be submitted on UT letterhead and signed by the nominator.
- The letter should explicitly state 1) the honorary degree title to be awarded, 2) the college that will award the degree, and 3) that the dean of the college is in agreement with the degree title.
- The letter should detail how the individual’s work, achievements, or leadership have benefitted UT or communities at the local, state, national, or international levels.
|Submit Honorary Degree Nomination|
Note: The deadline to submit a nomination for review by the campus nominating committee during the 2023-24 academic year is Friday, February 9, 2024.
Campus Nominating Committee
The nominating committee for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will receive and screen nominations and recommend candidates to the chancellor for consideration. The process is in accordance with University of Tennessee System-Wide Policy BT0005 – Policy on Awarding of Degrees and Certificates in Memoriam.
The nominating committee will be composed of six tenured faculty members who have at least five years of continuous service at UT. The Faculty Senate leadership will select three faculty representatives of the nominating committee, and the chancellor will select three faculty representatives of the nominating committee. The Faculty Senate leadership and the chancellor will work together in good faith to ensure compliance with the Board policy requirement that the committee be composed of individuals with different backgrounds, perspectives, and expertise.
The initial terms of the members of the nominating committee shall be one, two, and three years. Two members shall serve a one-year term (one member selected by the Faculty Senate leadership and the other selected by the chancellor); two members shall serve a two-year term (one member selected by the Faculty Senate leadership and the other selected by the chancellor); and two members shall serve a three-year term (one member selected by the Faculty Senate leadership and the other selected by the chancellor).
For all subsequent appointments, members of the nominating committee shall be appointed to serve terms of three years beginning July 1 of the year of appointment and ending on June 30 of the following year. Each year, two faculty members will roll off the nominating committee. The faculty senate leadership will select one new member each year, and the chancellor will select the other new member.
Faculty Senate leadership will select replacements for any representatives appointed by Faculty Senate leadership who resign before the end of their term. The chancellor will select replacements for any representatives appointed by the chancellor who resign before the end of their term. Replacements will serve the duration of the remaining term of the resigning representative.
The Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor will serve ex-officio as chair of the nominating committee and may vote in the event of a tie.
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. The committee is encouraged to select a chair.
Faculty Senate leadership selections
|Derek Alderman, College of Arts & Sciences||June 30, 2024|
|Robert Heller, College of Communication & Information||June 30, 2025|
|Debra Miller, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, One Health||June 30, 2026|
|Jian Huang, Tickle College of Engineering||June 30, 2024|
|Tim Munyon, Haslam College of Business||June 30, 2025|
|Teri Baxter, College of Law||June 30, 2026|
The nominating committee’s responsibilities include that its members:
- Be active in seeking nominations from colleagues.
- Ensure that nominators provide thorough and complete information. The committee may ask nominators for additional information.
- Conduct its own research on nominees and their perspectives in recommending nominations.
- Provide the chancellor with a thorough assessment of the merits of candidates.
Note: The nominating committee will not check references of candidates. Reference checks will be conducted by the chancellor’s office.