Honorary Degree & Commencement Speaker Nominations

Wittenberg University seeks to identify and acknowledge individuals whose accomplishments in their professions and in their communities exemplify the values and ideals of the University. It is our intention that the recipients of university honors, as exemplary models of scholarship, professional achievement, and service, will inspire the members of the Wittenberg community to seek excellence in all that we do.

In awarding honorary degrees, the Medal of Honor, and invitations to deliver the Commencement Address, Wittenberg University expresses its high regard for those we honor. It is our hope that by inviting them to membership in our extended community, we enhance our capacity to share our light with others.

Overview of Procedures

The Office of Advancement maintains a list of nominees for the following honors. Upon receiving a recommendation for a nomination, the Director of Donor Experience and Stewardship will submit the recommendation for research.

Honorary Degrees

Criteria: Persons considered for the awarding of honorary degrees include, but are not limited to:

  • Persons of prominence associated with leading liberal arts colleges.
  • Wittenberg alumni who have made significant contributions to society and serve as examples of the University’s aspirations for its students.
  • Prominent corporate and social leaders who have contributed significantly for a sustained period in scholarly research, teaching and learning, the arts, public service, social development, business.

Selection Process: Continually, the University will solicit nominations for honorary degrees from members of the larger University community, including faculty and staff members, students, retirees, alumni, and board members. Wittenberg will seek to maintain a balance among various fields of activity, both in a given calendar year and in a cycle of years. Additionally, Wittenberg will seek to work to recognize the achievements of women and minorities, consonant with the equal opportunity goals of the institution. An honorary degree cannot be awarded to an active member of the University faculty, administration, staff nor to ban appointed or elected official of Ohio state government.

Additional Information: The University will confer honorary degrees during spring Commencement Exercises. The University will cover reasonable transportation, meal, and lodging expenses, if necessary, for each honoree and one guest to attend Commencement.

Medal of Honor

Criteria: The Medal of Honor is awarded to persons who have made significant contributions to Wittenberg’s mission or who have provided extraordinary service to the University over a long period of time. The Medal of Honor should recognize persons such as community leaders who have been especially sensitive to the University’s needs and aspirations, members of the Board of Directors who have been loyal in long years of service, and others actively dedicated to Wittenberg.

Additional Information: The University may award one Medal of Honor each year. In rare instances, more than one may be awarded. The University will cover reasonable transportation, meal, and lodging expenses, if necessary, for the Medal honoree and one guest to attend Commencement or other recognition ceremony.

Commencement Speaker

The Commencement ceremony is an annual celebration of the mission of the University and of the values of a liberal arts education. As our formal opportunity to recognize the academic accomplishments of our students, Commencement also constitutes the University’s showcase opportunity to recognize and celebrate the lives and accomplishments of honors recipients.

Criteria: Individuals selected to deliver the Commencement address should have made significant local, regional, national, or international contributions in a given field, profession, or service to humanity and should be eligible to be awarded an honorary degree.

Additional Information: The University will cover reasonable transportation, meal, and lodging expenses, if necessary, for the Commencement speaker and one guest.

A faculty member whose interests are related to the work of the Commencement speaker may be selected to serve as host when the speaker is on campus. The faculty member will prepare the citation and read the citation during Commencement as the honorary degree is conferred.

Annual Calendar

Open and ongoing: Solicit recommendations through “suggest a speaker” form. This is shared with all constituents numerous times (students, alumni, fac/staff/board, etc..)

Fall: Preliminary list of Commencement Speaker and Honors nominees reviewed by Commencement Committee and Senior Class Officers. Recommendations then shared with Vice President for Advancement and President for review.

October Board Meeting: recommendation(s) reviewed by Governance Committee and feedback solicited.

Fall/Winter: Honorary degree award letters sent out by President’s office. Commencement speaker invited and confirmed.

March 1: Director of Donor Experience and Provost solicits and confirms campus hosts and citation-writers for honorees.

May: Commencement and awarding of honors.

Those involved in Honors Nominations and Commencement Speaker Reviews:

  • Members of the existing Campaign Committee and any future structure of such
  • President
  • Vice President for Advancement
  • Director of Donor Experience and Stewardship
  • Dean of Students
  • Provost
  • Executive Assistant to the Provost
  • Executive Assistant to the President
  • Chair of Board of Directors Governance Committee

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