Honorary Degrees: Who’s Chosen & Why
With echoes of graduation only one month ago, Education Update recently gathered information from several colleges regarding how recipients of honorary degrees are chosen, including a history of past honorees.
Marymount Manhattan College
Distinguished in three areas: scholarship, business, and the arts. We get nominations from faculty, staff, students, and board members. We then look at the individuals to ensure that they are a good complement to the College’s mission and that they are relevant to the graduates in some way, that their message would likely be beneficial to them. Below is a list of some famous past honorees.
1969 Coretta Scott King; 1976 Sidney Lumet; 1981 Rosa Parks; 1985 Mario M. Cuomo; 1987 Marlee Matlin; 1997 Eugene M. Lang; 2005 Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
College of New Rochelle
At The College of New Rochelle, nominations are made and reviewed by the College’s Board of Trustees. The Board selects candidates who best exemplify the values consistent with CNR’s mission, i.e. Catholic, liberal arts, women’s higher education, diversity, service and professional achievement.
Previous recipients of an honorary degree from CNR have included:
College Presidents: Dr. Norman C. Francis (Xavier University), Dr. Johnetta Cole (Spelman), Theodore Hesburgh (Notre Dame); Religious Leaders: John Cardinal O’Connor, Edward Cardinal Egan, Desmond Tutu; Civic & Media Leaders: Representative John Lewis (D-Georgia), Former Ambassador Corinne (Lindy) Boggs; Philanthropists: Frederick P. Rose; Scholars: Cornel West, John Hope Franklin; Service: Sister Patricia Cruise S.C., Sister Mary Rose McGeady S.C. (both from Covenant House).
Queens College, CUNY
Each year around January, the Chair of the Sub-Committee on Honorary Degrees, which is part of the Queens College (QC) Committee on Honors and Awards of the Academic Senate, sends out a campus-wide invitation for nominations for Honorary Degrees. The Sub-Committee considers the nominations they have received. Those that are approved are forwarded directly to the Academic Senate for voting. Once the Senate confirms the nominations, they are then submitted to the Queens College President. Following his approval, the list of candidates are forwarded to the Chancellor of the City University of New York, Matthew Goldstein (CUNY), of which QC is a part, no later than March 10. After the Chancellor has reviewed the candidates, he then presents them to the CUNY Board of Trustees for their examination and approval during their next executive session.
Criteria: Honorary Degrees serve to recognize the achievements of people who have made significant contributions to the progress of the college, its principles or academic or professional disciplines, or who have brought honor to the college through their work.
Among some of the most well-known honorees have been: Aaron Copland: American composer; Jonas Salk: Medical doctor who developed the polio vaccine; Marvin Hamlisch: Film and musical composer; Jerry Seinfeld: TV actor/comedian/writer; This year’s Honoree, Lieutenant-General Romeo A. D’Allaire commanded a U.N. Mission to Rwanda from 1993-94 and tried to stop the genocide that claimed 800,000 lives in 100 days.#