Upon recommendation by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Commencement, the Lafayette College Board of Trustees awards honorary degrees to distinguished individuals who have made profound impacts in public service, scholarly, creative, and/or professional endeavors. An honorary degree is one of the most significant forms of recognition awarded by the College. Recipients should serve as an inspiration to members of the campus community and bring honor to the College.

Recipients are people whose accomplishments reflect the character, values, and mission of Lafayette College. The Honorary Degree Policy provides guidelines for procedures for granting honorary degrees. 

Nominate a Honorary Degree Recipient or Commencement Speaker

Guidelines

  • Nominee must be nominated by a member of the Lafayette College community.
  • Honorary degree nominee’s accomplishments should reflect the scholarly, curricular, or co-curricular interests and activities of the College.
  • Three to five honorary degrees will be awarded each year at the May Commencement.  If circumstances warrant, however, honorary degrees may be awarded at special programs throughout the year upon approval of the Board of Trustees.
  • Nominations are confidential and should not be discussed with nominees. Nominators will not receive notification of the status of their recommendations.
  • Honorary degree recipients, unless also serving as the commencement speaker, will not receive payment or honoraria.
  • Honorary degree nominees should not be awarded to a faculty or staff member employed by the College.
  • The Committee should use discretion when considering candidates running for elected office.
  • Philanthropic support of the College is not by itself an accomplishment warranting an honorary degree. 

Process

  • Nominations must be submitted through the President’s Office or (insert link to be created) for consideration and should include a brief summary of the nominee’s accomplishments, a statement on why the person should be considered for an honorary degree from the College, and indicate any connection to Lafayette College. Nominator should include their own name, contact information and relationship to the College.
  • The Presidential Advisory Committee on Commencement, comprised of the President, faculty, students, administrators, and a member of the Board of Trustees, reviews nominations and makes recommendations regarding honorary degree candidates to the Board of Trustees for final approval.
  • The Communications Division reviews publically available data to ensure a full understanding of the nominee’s background and accomplishments. 
  • The President presents the honorary degree candidates to the Board of Trustees who vote to approve each nominee.
  • Upon approval by the Board of Trustees, the President’s Office will contact each approved honorary degree candidate to ascertain their interest and, if available, coordinate logistics for the honorary degree recipient to come to campus for Commencement activities.
  • Normally an honorary degree is conferred only when the recipient is present at commencement.
  • Every effort will be made to ensure that the nomination and selection process remains confidential.
  • The College will make no public announcement of degree recipients until nominees are notified and have indicated their willingness to accept the honorary degree.
  • The College may award an honorary degree to an approved nominee within two years of the Board’s initial approval in such instances where the nominee is unable to participate in Commencement activities in the year approved.

Appendix A

Commencement Script: Honorary Degree Conferral Language

  • Board of Trustees Chair reads: “Madam President, fellow Trustees, honored guests, parents, families, friends, and members of the Class of 20XX, it is our custom during these annual ceremonies to recognize a select group of individuals who exemplify in their personal and professional lives our College’s most cherished ideals.” 
  • “It is with considerable pride and pleasure that we welcome five distinguished individuals to honorary membership in the Lafayette College family this afternoon.”
  • BOT Chair pauses; Board Secretary brings Honorary Degree Recipient forward. BOT Chair introduces Honorary Degree Recipient, following which the President reads and presents the citation. Then Board Secretary places hood over recipient’s shoulders.
  • BOT Chair reads introductory Remarks for honoree.
  • President reads Citation. Followed by, 
  • “THEREFORE, by the authority granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Trustees of Lafayette College and by them delegated to me, I award you the degree of DOCTOR OF XXXX, honoris causa, with all the rights, honors, privileges, and obligations thereto appertaining, in token whereof I present you with this diploma and direct that you be vested in the hood emblematic of the degree.”