Adelphi University (“the 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 of striking accomplishment in their chosen fields of endeavor 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.



  • 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 the Board of Trustees are not eligible for honorary degrees.
  • Posthumous honorary degrees will not be made.

Nomination and Selection Process

  • The Honorary Degrees Committee comprised of representatives from faculty, staff, students, and trustees, which reports to the Senate, 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 Honorary Degrees Committee will solicit nominations annually (October) 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 and will be forwarded with recommendations to the President.
  • The President will present the slate of nominees to the Academic Affairs/Student Life Committee of the Board of Trustees at its March meeting. The Committee will review the individual nominations and provide direction to the administration regarding priorities for the conferral of honorary degrees in the next academic year.
  • The President will report on the status of honorary degree invitations and acceptances for May commencement at the preceding September meeting of the Board of Trustees.
  • The President will bring recommendations to the September and December meetings of the Board of Trustees for honorary degrees to be conferred at times other than May commencement.
  • The President may invite one of the honorary degree recipients to be the commencement speaker. However, the President, in consultation with the academic deans, may identify and engage non-honorary degree recipients as commencement speaker 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. Confidentiality will be lifted only upon the honoree’s agreeing to accept the award.
  • Candidates, who are unable to accept an honorary degree in the year it was approved, will remain eligible for an award for a period of up to three years unless his or her nomination is removed for cause.
  • No more than three honorary degrees will be awarded in any academic year except under special circumstances with the approval of the Board of Trustees.

Rescinding Honorary Degrees and Recognitions

  • The University 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.


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.


This policy does not have forms 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.

Related Information

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

Document History

  • Last Reviewed Date: January 6, 2023
  • Last Revised Date: September 11, 2018
  • Policy Origination Date: February 15, 2018

Who Approved This Policy

Board of Trustees


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