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Awarding Honorary Degrees and Other Special Awards

  • Responsible Office: Office of the President
  • Current Approved Version: 03/22/2019
  • Policy Type: Board of Visitors

Awarding Honorary Degrees and Other Special Awards

Policy Type: Local - Board of Visitors

Responsible Office: Office of the President

Initial Policy Approved: March 2001

Current Revision Approved: March 22, 2019

 

Policy Statement and Purpose

 This policy addresses the requirements and processes for awarding Honorary Degrees and other Special Awards on behalf of the President and the Board of Visitors.

 

Table of Contents

 

Who Should Know This Policy             1

Definitions                                        1

Contacts                                           3

Policy Specifics and Procedures           2-5

Forms                                               6

Related Documents                            6

Revision History                                 7

 

Who Should Know This Policy

Members of the university community who nominate, review, and/or manage the award process, or serve on any related committees are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the contents and provisions of this policy.

 

Definitions

Honorary Degree –An honorary degree is a doctorate degree conferred, upon someone who is not a current student of the institution, to honor the recipient for which the university has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, a dissertation and the passing of comprehensive examinations. It confers no privileges, rights or academic credentials on the individual receiving the Honorary Degree. The Honorary Degree is bestowed based on information known and available at the time of conferral.

 

Contacts

 The Office of the President officially interprets this policy. The Office of the President is responsible for obtaining approval for any revisions as required by the policy Creating and Maintaining Policies and Procedures through the appropriate governance structures. Please direct policy questions to the Office of the President and Assistant Secretary to the Board of Visitors.

 

Policy Specifics and Procedures

Honorary Degree

The Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters is one of Virginia Commonwealth University’s highest forms of recognition for an individual who has made outstanding societal contributions such as scholarship, public service, humanitarianism, science or art. The award of the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters is made to:

 

  • Honor individuals who have distinguished themselves through extraordinary achievements in scholarship, the professions, or other creative endeavors;
  • Reflect and elevate individuals who embody and model the university’s most fundamental commitments and values by honoring those whose accomplishments and achievements in their fields of endeavor serve as exemplars.

To preserve the prestigious honor such a degree carries, all Honorary Degrees are awarded with great care and respect. When determining eligibility, the university will consider that the public may associate recipients with the university indefinitely. There must be sufficient rationale why an individual is recognized and their specific contribution to the university community or society as a whole.

 Candidates for Honorary Degrees must be persons of great accomplishment and high ethical standards who exemplify the ideals of Virginia Commonwealth University. Honorary degrees are conferred in accordance with university policies, including its nondiscrimination policy, and are based upon facts known at the time the degree is conferred. Factors to be evaluated in awarding degrees include but are not limited to:

  • Intellectual distinction in a particular
  • Extraordinary achievement, which the university wishes to acknowledge.
  • Extraordinary contribution to the university, Commonwealth of Virginia, nation, world, or society.
  • Sufficient stature to bring additional prestige to the

Current and former members of the VCU Board of Visitors, Emeriti Faculty, and current employees may be considered for an Honorary Degree on a case-by-case basis. Only one Honorary Degree can be awarded to an individual and consideration of potential future acts cannot serve as the basis for the award of an Honorary Degree.

An Honorary Degree is usually conferred at a commencement ceremony and must be approved by the Board of Visitors in advance of the ceremony. An Honorary Degree will not be presented in absentia unless posthumously.

The Board’s conferral of an honorary degree does not give the individual holding such degree the right to or interest in continuing to hold such degree. The Board of Visitors, in its sole discretion, has the authority to revoke Honorary Degrees. The Special Awards Committee shall make a recommendation to revoke an Honorary Degree to the President, who shall make a recommendation to the Board of Visitors. In addition, a member of the Board of Visitors may make a direct recommendation to the Board to have an Honorary Degree revoked.

The reasons for revoking an Honorary Degree include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The honoree engaged in conduct inconsistent with the mission and/or values of VCU,
  • Facts are discovered that negate the accomplishments that were cited as the basis for awarding the Honorary Degree, or
  • The honoree’s conduct injures the reputation of the VCU or the Commonwealth of

The President or the Rector of the Board of Visitors (through the Assistant Secretary to the Board of Visitors) will notify the honoree of the revocation. The Board of Visitors’ determination is final.

Edward A. Wayne Medal

The Edward A. Wayne Medal is named after the former Chairman of the Commission to Plan for the Establishment of a Proposed State-Supported University in the Richmond Metropolitan Area (the “Commission”). The Commission recommended, and the General Assembly approved, the establishment of Virginia Commonwealth University in 1968. In addition, Mr. Wayne, who was a past president of the Federal Reserve Bank, served as VCU’s first vice-rector.

The Edward A. Wayne Medal is a high honor bestowed by the university for extraordinary generosity and service to VCU and the community. To be eligible, an individual must have:

  • served as a volunteer leader in a major role for a campaign or fund drive at VCU,
  • demonstrated a commitment to the Commonwealth and its citizens through leadership and/or personal philanthropy
  • served in a leadership role for one of the university’s related foundations, advisory boards or alumni associations, or
  • contributed a leadership gift to the univeristy

An individual may receive only one Edward A. Wayne Medal from VCU. The Edward A. Wayne Medal is usually awarded at a commencement ceremony and must be approved by the Board of Visitors in advance of the ceremony. The Edward A. Wayne Award Medal will not be presented in absentia unless posthumously.

 

Presidential Medallion

The Presidential Medallion is a high honor bestowed by Virginia Commonwealth University and is awarded in recognition of outstanding contributions by a member of the university community. The award will recognize extraordinary achievement in the world of learning and dedication to Virginia Commonwealth University as evidenced by a series of outstanding contributions to several areas of university life. In order to recognize outstanding contributions by members of the university community, the President recommended, and the Board of Visitors approved, the establishment of this award in March 1984. An individual may receive only one Presidential Medallion from VCU. The Presidential Medallion is usually awarded at a commencement ceremony or during the annual Faculty Convocation upon recommendation of the President. The Presidential Medallion will not be presented in absentia unless posthumously.

Current members of the VCU Board of Visitors and current employees of the university are generally not eligible for the Presidential Medallion.

 

NOMINATIONS AND APPROVALS

 

Honorary Degrees

Nominations are generally solicited from the representative bodies of the university’s key stakeholder groups and submitted to the Office of the President and Assistant Secretary to the Board of Visitors for consideration in advance of a Board of Visitors regularly scheduled meeting. The President (or designee) will review the recommendations and make the final selection for presentation to the Board of Visitors for approval.

The Board of Visitors makes the final decision related to the Honorary Degree and there is no appeal process.

Special Awards

Nominations for Special Awards such as the Edward A. Wayne Medal or Presidential Medallion are solicited from the representative bodies of the university’s key stakeholder groups, including but not limited to the following:

 

  • Edward A. Wayne Medal: Board of Visitors University Resources Committee, Development and Alumni Relations Division, Council of Deans, Council of Chairs,
  • Presidential Medallion: Alumni of the university, alumni groups, Faculty and Staff Senates, University Council, President’s Cabinet, Student Government Associations, student groups, Council of Deans, etc.

Recommendations are made to the Special Awards Committee, which makes recommendations to the President. The President shall present the nominations for the Honorary Degree and the Edward A. Wayne Medal to the Board of Visitors for final approval. Reasonable efforts should be made to notify the nominating body or individual of the Board’s final decision on all selections.

The Board of Visitors makes the final decision related to the Edward A. Wayne Medal, and the President makes the final decision related to the Presidential Medallion. Once those decisions have been made, there is no appeal process.

SPECIAL AWARDS COMMITTEE

The Special Awards Committee (the “Committee”) is comprised of individuals appointed and charged by the President and/or his designee(s) to receive nominations, and to review and make recommendations for:

  • Commencement ceremony speakers,
  • Honorary degree recipients,
  • Edward Wayne Medal recipients, and
  • Presidential Medallion recipients.

While the President makes the final selections and/or decisions related to recipients of the Edward A. Wayne Medal and Presidential Medallion, it is not without significant support and assistance from the work of the Special Awards Committee and an open nominations process. All members of the Committee are expected to serve in an impartial manner—free of conflicts or the appearance thereof. If a personal or professional conflict exists, the affected individual must disclose such conflict or bias to the Committee Chairs. The Committee Chairs shall establish a written process to determine whether any conflict(s) exist.

Committee members may include:

  • Members of the President’s Cabinet
  • Board Liaison
  • Faculty representative
  • Staff Senate representative
  • Board representative
  • Members from the Student Government Association
  • Other individuals as determined by the President

The President shall appoint the chair or co-chairs of the Special Awards Committee by no later than July 1 of each year and reserves the right to modify the Committee’s membership as necessary. Upon appointment, the Chair (or Co-Chairs) of the Special Awards Committee shall convene a meeting of the Committee by no later than the end of September.

By no later than December 31 of each year, the Committee shall:

 

  • Develop or revise the process and timeline for soliciting and receiving
  • Solicit a list of nominations of potential Honorary Degree recipients from the representative bodies of the university’s key stakeholder groups, to include profiles of each nominee, resumes/CVs or biographical sketches, and justifications for selection based on the policy
  • Create or update a running list of nominations for commencement speakers covering a three-year period and including alternates for each
  • Develop a list of recommendations for Special Awards (e.g., Edward A. Wayne Medal and Presidential Medallion) from the representative bodies. Each Award shall have no less than two (2) nominations with profiles of each nominee, resumes/CVs or biographical sketches, and justifications for selection based on policy
  • Develop or revise the recommended procedures for revocation of Honorary
  • Present the Committee’s recommendations to the President for selection or

Forms

Nomination forms that are required in this process can be found on the Office of the President’s website specifically https://president.vcu.edu/nominations/

Related Documents

Overview and instructions for submission can be found

https://president.vcu.edu/nominations/

 

Revision History

This policy revokes and replaces any and all policies related to conferring Honorary Degrees and/or awarding the Edward A. Wayne Medal and/or the Presidential Medallion.

FAQs

 

If the request is not approved for awarding an Honorary Degree, the Edward A. Wayne Medal, or the Presidential Medallion is there an appeal process?

The Board of Visitors makes the final decision related to the Honorary Degree and the Edward A. Wayne Medal, and there is no appeal process.

The President makes the final decision regarding the Presidential Medallion and there is no appeal process.

 

Can an Honorary Degree be revoked?

 

  1. The Board of Visitors makes the final determination on whether an Honorary Degree may be revoked. Such determination is made upon (a) a direct recommendation from a member of the Board of Visitors to the Board to have an Honorary Degree revoked; or (b) upon the recommendation of the President to the Board of Visitors, and an evaluation and recommendation of the necessity for such action by the Special Awards Committee.
  2. The honoree engaged in conduct inconsistent with the mission and/or values of VCU,
  3. Facts are discovered that negate the accomplishments that were cited as the basis for awarding the Honorary Degree, or
  4. The honoree’s conduct injures the reputation of the VCU or the Commonwealth of

 

The reasons for revoking an Honorary Degree include, but are not limited to the following:

 

If the Board of Visitors decides that the Honorary Degree should be revoked, is there an appeal process?

 

No, once the Board of Visitors has revoked the degree there is no appeal process.