Honorary Degrees


Every year, honorary degrees are presented at Commencement to individuals selected by the faculty Committee on Honorary Degrees and approved by the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees. In awarding honorary degrees, the University seeks to recognize deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing individuals for exemplary service to the deaf and hard of hearing community.

For academic year 2013-2014, the members of the Committee on Honorary Degrees are Dr. Thangi Appanah (Education), Dr. Paul Dudis (Linguistics), Dr. Robert Harrison (Art, Communication, and Theatre), Dr. Jane Nickerson (English), and Dr. Cynthia Roy (Interpretation).

At Gallaudet's 144th Annual Commencement on Friday, May 17, 2013, Mr. Raymond H. LaHood, former Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. Dr. Harry G. Lang,  Professor Emeritus at Rochester Institute of Technology, received the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Dr. Stephen B. Chaikind  was named Professor Emeritus. At Gallaudet's 145th Annual Commencement on Friday, May 16, 2014, honorary degrees will be awarded to Mr. Philp W. Bravin, '66; Father Thomas J. Coughlin, O.P. MISS., '72; and President Emeritus I. King Jordan, '70.

A list of all past honorary degree recipients is at http://www.gallaudet.edu/Academic_Affairs/Honorary_Degrees.html.

Nominations for 2016

Criteria for Honorary Degree Nominations

In July 2010, the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees adopted new standards and procedures for the award of honorary degrees. These standards and procedures are available here. One of the major changes is that nominations for honorary degrees will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Beginning with nominations for awards in May 2013, nominations received by the announced deadline date will be considered during the February Board meeting of the following year for awards to be given in May of the following year, i.e., 15 months in advance.

Each nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Individuals whose significant personal, social, cultural, scientific, or professional achievements have positively increased public awareness of deaf and hard of hearing people, nationally or internationally, and whose values inherently are reflected in the Gallaudet University mission;
  2. Individuals with exemplary records of academic and/or public accomplishments in line with Gallaudet University's standards for academic rigor, quality, and significance.
  3. Persons whose leadership or originality in significant human endeavor has been with distinction, with preference to those whose accomplishments came first in a particular field of endeavor.
  4. Individuals who have served as role models for deaf and hard of hearing people through their extensive leadership and public service.

Nomination Procedure

Nominations for honorary degrees will be accepted on an ongoing basis.  The deadline for receipt of nominations for 2015 was Friday, November 1, 2013, and nominations are now closed. Nominations for 2016 are being accepted, with a deadline date of Friday, October 31, 2014. 

Honorary degree nominations

Supporting material for each nomination shall include:

  • a completed nomination form for 2016 [Word] [PDF],
  • a supporting letter describing how the nominee meets the purpose of the honorary degree,
  • documented evidence of the nominee's achievements and his/her impact on deaf and hard of hearing people,
  • the nominee's curriculum vitae, or information that would ordinarily be included in a curriculum vitae.
  • names and contact information of three references who will be asked in confidence by the Honorary Degree Committee to comment on the qualifications of the nominee.


Please email the Office of the Provost, or call 202-250-2411 videophone.

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