Honorary Degree Criteria

The Honorary Doctorate is the highest award that Tulane University confers. It is awarded only at Commencement. Recognizing that this award is given to elevate Tulane in the eyes of the world by honoring achievements in the recipient’s field of endeavor, to enhance the dignity of the University and to deepen appreciation of the role it performs in society, the honorary degree is given:

  • To honor individuals who have distinguished themselves through extraordinary achievements in scholarship, civic engagement, the professions or creative activities, whether or not they are widely known by the general public;
  • To honor alumni and other individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the welfare and development of Tulane or the communities of which they are a part;
  • To recognize exceptional acts of philanthropy;
  • To recognize outstanding civic engagement that advances Tulane, New Orleans, the Gulf Coast or the world.

Nomination Process

Any Tulane faculty, staff, student, alumni member or member of the Board may nominate a potential candidate. An individual’s nomination need not come from someone in his/her academic area. Nominations of persons with distinguished accomplishments outside of conventional academic fields are welcomed. Nominations of candidates from diverse backgrounds, and whose own accomplishments might serve to highlight areas in which Tulane has developed exceptional strength, are particularly welcomed.

After review and approval of the Senate Committee on University Honors and the Board Committee on University Honors, meeting jointly, the nominations are forwarded to the University Senate for approval. Nominations approved by the Senate are then forwarded to the President in consultation with the Provost. The President’s recommendation regarding the candidates is sent to the Board with the Senate’s recommendation.

Nominations are to include a formal nomination letter, a current vita for the candidate and any other supporting materials the nominator feels should be brought to the Committee’s attention. Note that the following questions must be answered in the nominator’s letter of nomination:

  • What is the nominee’s specific contribution?
  • What is original about that contribution?
  • Of all possible contributors to the field of endeavor, why is this nominee exceptional?
  • Why is the field of the nominee especially appropriate to Tulane?

Nominations can be sent to Will Ferbos, Associate Vice President for Institutional Affairs and Deputy Chief of Staff or Martin Davies, Chair, Senate Committee on University Honors. 


Under no circumstances should the nominee be informed that his or her name has been put forward. Not all excellent candidates can be recognized, and knowledge of a failed nomination can be embarrassing and harmful. Further, the nominator should not solicit letters of support on behalf of the nominee from people outside the University. Official notification of Tulane’s wish to confer an honorary degree upon an individual is made by the President on behalf of the Committees on Honorary Degrees and the Board.