Nominate candidates for this year’s Honorary Degrees!


As you may know, a few lucky individuals receive honorary degrees from Brown University at our Commencement ceremony each May. Past winners have ranged from Thomas Jefferson, to Nelson Mandela, to our very own Ruth Simmons. Needless to say, it would be an honor to join the ranks of these successful and talented people who have been recognized by the University for their excellence.

And now, Brunonia, it’s your turn to take matters into your hands. The Advisory Committee on Honorary Degrees invites you to share who you believe deserve this year’s degrees. According to the Committee, they “hope to identify individuals who have achieved unquestioned distinction in some field, especially an academic field, or whose contributions to the public good and human welfare are of sufficient magnitude to warrant recognition.  Individuals whose accomplishments are local or regional, as well as those of international renown, also are of interest to the Committee.”

Letters of nomination “should explain why Brown would wish to honor that individual at this time.  Initial letters of recommendation may be brief, but ultimately additional background information on the nominee in the form of a resume, curriculum vitae, or narrative will be important to consider.” These and any other related materials should be sent to the Committee on Honorary Degrees, c/o Ms. Cheryl Moreau, Office of Faculty Governance, Box 1830, 402 University Hall no later than September 22, 2014.

Let your voices be heard! Personally, we still have our sights set on seeing one Dave Binder take home a diploma…

10 honorary doctorates on May 29

Morgan Freeman accepts honorary degree at last year's commencement /

Last week, the University announced this year’s ten-person list of honorary degree recipients, which includes esteemed film actor Jack Nicholson, National Medal of Science winner (and professor emeritus of mathematics) David Mumford and HuffPo’s own Arianna Huffington. While none of the honorees will actually speak during the May 29 ceremony, several of them (predictably the more academic types) will be participating in other Commencement Weekend events.

According to Encyclopedia Brunonia, the University has been awarding honorary degrees since the first commencement ceremony 1769 — though the practice has seen some major changes since its inception. The first class of recipients consisted of male graduates from other institutions who received the awards “at their own request” (but maybe they won them for effectively negating the meaning of ‘award’). While the University initially kept the names of the award-winners secret, the custom of pre-ceremony announcement began in 1963 and now the whole school can eagerly anticipate the arrival of NYT op-ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof.  A fun fact about each of the five best-known recipients-with requisite commentary-after the jump. Continue Reading