Adelphi University (“University”) awards honorary degrees on a selective basis to distinguished individuals (“Candidates”) who merit special recognition for outstanding achievement or leadership in a field or activity consistent with the ideals and purposes of the University. This policy sets forth the following standards and procedures for granting honorary degrees.

Reason for Policy

The awarding of honorary degrees is the academic distinction conferred by the University to recognize individuals with significant accomplishment in their chosen fields of endeavor and whose life’s work embodies the values and aspirations of the University. In honoring such individuals, we further our mission, bring distinction to the University, and give homage to those who have advanced the possibilities of humankind. The University is further enriched by the long-term relationships that may be developed with our accomplished honorees as they become part of the University community.

Who Is Governed by this Policy

This policy applies to all members of the University community involved in the nomination or selection of Candidates for honorary degrees including the Board of Trustees, Faculty, and Staff.



The following general principles shall apply to the selection process:

  • Recipients of honorary degrees will be eminently accomplished in their discipline or field of work and will have made significant contributions to their professions and society.
  • The criteria for awarding an Adelphi honorary degree include achievement of the highest distinction in a field of learning, the arts, the professions, or public service, especially those achievements that contribute to the life of the mind and human spirit.
  • In selecting recipients of honorary degrees, we seek to acknowledge and mirror the diversity of our world with respect to such attributes as gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the disciplines, fields of work and backgrounds which recipients represent.
  • From time to time, the University may wish to confer a group of honorary degrees that illuminate an important theme or area of endeavor.
  • Active members of the University community, including faculty, administration and members of the Board of Trustees, are not eligible for honorary degrees.
  • Posthumous honorary degrees will not be conferred.

The specific honorary degree awarded shall be appropriate to the nature of the achievements which are being recognized.


This policy does not have definitions associated with it at this time. Upon periodic policy review this area will be evaluated to determine if additional information is needed to supplement the policy.


Nomination and Selection Process

  • The Honorary Degrees Committee shall be comprised of members of the Campus Advisory Committee, including faculty, staff, and students, and trustees and, which reports to the Senate, the Campus Advisory Committee, the President, and the Board of Trustees, is charged with developing a slate of candidates representing the highest values and breadth of commitment of the University.
  • The Office of the Provost will solicit nominations annually during the fall semester from the trustees, faculty, staff, and students of the University.
  • All Honorary Degree Nomination letters should address the following:
    • Describe the nominee’s achievements and why they would merit this honor.
    • Why is it particularly fitting for Adelphi University to honor this nominee?
    • Would an honorary degree from Adelphi University have any special significance for this nominee?
    • Would the award have any special significance or meaning for graduating students?
  • Candidates will be reviewed by the Honorary Degrees Committee, which will be forwarded with recommendations to the President.
  • The President, or their designee, will present the slate of nominees to the Academic Affairs/Student Life Committee of the Board of Trustees at its meeting late in the fall semester. The Committee will review the individual nominations and provide direction to the administration regarding priorities for the conferral of honorary degrees, and approve nominees to be placed in the three-year pool of nominees.
  • Candidates will remain eligible for an award for a period of up to three years unless their nomination is removed for cause.
  • The President, or their designee, will report and make a recommendation on the status of honorary degree invitations and acceptances for May commencement at the early spring meeting of the Academic Affairs/Student Life Committee of the Board. The Committee will review and recommend nominee(s) to the Board of Trustees to be awarded at the upcoming May commencement exercises.
  • The President, or their designee, shall forward final recommendations to the Academic Affairs/Student Life Committee of the Board, but only after a thorough background check on the individuals to be recommended has been completed, conducted by the University’s current vendor. Background checks should include a thorough review of potential candidates and confirmation of their biographical information, credentials and references, and should investigate past and present business dealings, personal history, press coverage, etc. to determine if there are any negative associations with the potential candidates. In addition, following selection of potential candidates and prior to a final decision, candidates shall be informed that the University reserves the right to conduct a background check as described above on all candidates.
  • The President, or their designee, may bring recommendations to the Board of Trustees for honorary degrees to be conferred at times other than May commencement.
  • The President, or their designee, may invite one of the honorary degree recipients to be the commencement speaker. However, the President, in consultation with the Provost and academic deans, may identify and engage non-honorary degree recipients as commencement speakers for the annual commencement ceremony.
  • Honorary degrees will not be awarded in absentia except under extraordinary circumstances meriting special consideration and with the approval of the Board of Trustees.
  • The nomination and selection process will be confidential to safeguard the privacy of the nominee. Any invitation may be rescinded at any time at the University’s sole discretion. Confidentiality will be lifted only upon the honoree’s agreeing to accept the award.
  • No more than three honorary degrees will be awarded in any academic year except under special circumstances and with the approval of the Board of Trustees.

Rescinding Honorary Degrees and Recognitions

  • The Board of Trustees, on recommendation from the Academic Affairs/Student Life Committee of the Board and the President, may rescind an honorary degree or other recognition conferred by the Board if the conduct of the recipient is antithetical to the core values of the University and inconsistent with the character and high standards that honorary degree recipients are expected to exemplify.
  • Further, the Board may, in its sole discretion, take such action if it judges the recipient’s conduct could reasonably cause harm to the public reputation of the University. Such conduct could occur subsequent to the degree or recognition being conferred or prior to the recognition if the University was unaware of the conduct at the time the decision was made to confer the degree or recognition.


Nomination Form

Related Information

Honorary Degrees

Document History

  • Last Reviewed Date: March 6, 2023
  • Last Revised Date: March 6, 2023
  • Policy Origination Date: February 15, 2018

Policy Approved By

Board of Trustees

Policy Owner

Secondary Contacts

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