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Week of September 16, 2013

Nominations sought for honorary degree recipients

It is important to consider and recognize those who make valuable contributions to the world from outside the U-M community.

That’s the message from President Mary Sue Coleman, who this month encouraged members of the university community to consider exceptional candidates for nominations to the university’s Honorary Degree Committee.

A fall deadline for honorary degree recipient nominations is 5 p.m. Oct. 18. Nominations also are sought in the spring.

“Conferring honorary degrees on distinguished individuals whose accomplishments resonate with the overarching mission of the university is a point of pride for the university,” Coleman says.

Nominees may be eminent scholars, scientists, artists or professionals who have advanced their disciplines in important ways. Or, they may be individuals outside of the academic world who have made distinguished contributions to society in areas such as public service, business, religion, government or the arts.

The Honorary Degree Committee, chaired by Rackham Dean Janet Weiss, considers nominations. Members representing the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, and students and alumni, are appointed by the Board of Regents on the recommendation of the president. The president and several executive officers serve ex-officio. The committee forwards recommendations to the president and the Board of Regents.

John Godfrey, assistant dean of the Rackham School of Graduate Studies, who works with the committee, says the nomination process is important because it is a way for faculty, students and alumni to bring forth names of outstanding persons whose achievements are inspirational.

“The presentation of an honorary degree at commencement is, in a way, a final moment of teaching. By conferring a degree, the university recognizes exemplary and impactful individuals who each convey a message of the potential of every person and the possibilities of a life in the mindful pursuit of excellence,” Godfrey says.

Because commencement speakers ordinarily receive honorary degrees, the university also is interested in learning about nominees who would be appropriate to deliver a commencement address.

“The university strives for a robust pool of honorees from all backgrounds, and I especially encourage you to suggest distinguished women, members of minority groups, and other individuals with a connection to the University of Michigan whose accomplishments we may wish to celebrate,” Coleman says.

For an overview of the nomination and selection process, a history of past recipients, and nomination forms, go to www.umich.edu/pres/committees/honorary.php.

Nomination forms also can be downloaded and submitted by e-mail, fax or mail to the Honorary Degree Committee, c/o John Godfrey, Assistant Dean, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, 1120 Rackham, 915 E. Washington Street, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-1070. Fax: 734-763-2447; e-mail: jgodfrey@umich.edu.

Questions can be directed to HDnominations@umich.edu or 734-764-8221.

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