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Honorary Degree Policy

  • Responsible Office: Office of the President
  • Current Approved Version: 03/20/2001
  • Policy Type: Board of Visitors


  • To honor individuals who have distinguished themselves through extraordinary achievements in scholarship, the professions, or other creative endeavors.
  • To honor alumni and other individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the welfare and development of VCU or the communities of which it is a part.
  • To recognize exceptional acts of philanthropy to the University.
  • To elevate the University in the eyes of the world by honoring individuals who are widely known and highly regarded for achievements in their respective fields of endeavor.


Candidates for Honorary Degrees shall be persons of great accomplishment and high ethical standards who exemplify the ideals of Virginia Commonwealth University. Factors to be evaluated in awarding degrees include:

  • Qualified candidates are considered regardless of race, sex, creed, or national origin.
  • Intellectual distinction in a particular field.
  • Extraordinary achievement, which the University wishes to acknowledge.
  • Extraordinary contribution to the University, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, the world, and society.
  • A recipient of the degree is forever associated with the University and must be of sufficient stature to bring additional prestige to the University.
  • There are a number of people who, because of positions held, should not be considered for Honorary Degrees. This group includes members of the Board of Visitors and present employees of the University. In addition, Emeriti Faculty and former members of the Board should only be considered for Honorary Degrees on an exceptional basis.


Recommendations are made to the Executive Assistant to the President and Board of Visitors or the President of Virginia Commonwealth University. Nominations should be accompanied by the following:

  • A vitae
  • Letter(s) of endorsement
  • Additional pertinent information

Honorary Degrees are awarded by the Board of Visitors upon recommendation from the President of Virginia Commonwealth University.


Normally three (3) Honorary Degrees will be awarded within a one-year period.


Conferral of Honorary Degrees normally will be made at Commencement.


Public announcement of the award is to be handled exclusively through the Office of the President.

Approved by Eugene P. Trani, President -March 2001