Honorary Degree Policy


To recognize persons of exceptional scholarly, artistic, professional or humanitarian achievement who exemplify the mission of 'Western Michigan University and whose career or lifetime accomplishments serve as models of University ideals and aspirations for its students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Criteria for selection

The Honorary Degree is reserved for individuals whose scholarly, artistic, professional or humanitarian achievement is exceptional, and is expected to result in a significant and lasting contribution to society. Honorary degrees are not awarded solely for philanthropic activity or service to the University. Nominees need not be alumni, however, alumni and others with a significant connection to the University shall be given special consideration. Honorary degree recipients should represent the diversity of the University and should not be limited to specific disciplines or professions; recipients should, to the extent possible, reflect the breadth of geographic, ethnic, cultural identity and other characteristics of the University community.

To avoid potential conflicts of interest, the following categories of individuals are ineligible to receive an honorary degree from Western Michigan University:

  1. WMU employees and Board of Trustees members are ineligible for consideration unless they have been separated from WMU for at least three years. Exceptions can be made regarding V/MU employees at the discretion of the Board of Trustees.
  2. Elected or appointed public officials of the State of Michigan are ineligible until they have been out of Michigan public office for at least three years. All other currently elected or appointed public officials are ineligible while holding office except as they unquestionably meet the honorary degree criteria listed and the awarding of an honorary degree clearly does not represent a conflict of interest for the nominee or the University.

Honorary degrees conferred

  • Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa (L.H.D.), given to persons with outstanding achievement in the humanities.
  • Doctor of Science, honoris causa (Sc.D.), given to persons with outstanding contributions to and service in the sciences.
  • Doctor of Letters, honoris causa (Litt.D.), given to outstanding scholars in specific disciplines, exclusive of the sciences and humanities.
  • Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (L.L.D.), given to persons with outstanding service to humankind at large, to learning, and/or institutions benefiting the public.

Approved by the Board of Trustees on October 6, 2015.