Honorary Degree and Commencement Speakers

Purpose and Overview

This policy outlines the selection criteria, nomination process, and selection process for Honorary Degree recipients and Commencement Speakers at the College for Creative Studies.

Honorary Doctorates are the highest honor that the College can confer upon an individual.  The award of Honorary Doctorate is to recognize extraordinary achievements in the fields of art, design, or education or have made significant contributions to society.  The awarding of an Honorary Doctorate is not meant to recognize the meeting of a set of minimum standards, but is instead meant to recognize the breadth of an individual’s contributions and achievements.

Commencement Speakers typically receive an Honorary Doctorate from the College and should meet the criteria for an Honorary Doctorate.  The President of the College may select a Commencement Speaker that does not meet the criteria for an Honorary Doctorate in which case the individual should be recognized through another honor.

Criteria, Eligibility, and Confidentiality


Nominees should exemplify the mission and values of the College for Creative Studies rooted in the College’s commitment to nurture the creativity that is vital to the enrichment of modern culture.  Nominees should have made distinguished and notable contributions to society, art, design, and/or culture while demonstrating and high standard of excellence.

In awarding an Honorary Doctorate, the College seeks to align itself with individuals that exemplify the College’s values and commitments and to inspire students and alumni to emulate such individuals.

An association with the College prior to the conferral of an Honorary Doctorate is welcome, it is not necessary to be selected to receive the honor of Honorary Doctorate.


Individuals making significant contributions to art, design, education, society, and/or culture are eligible for consideration as an Honorary Doctorate recipient.

Candidates for political office or current holders of political office are not eligible to receive an Honorary Doctorate from the college with the following exceptions:

  1. President of the United States
  2. Vice President of the United States
  3. Governor of the State of Michigan

Current faculty, staff, or Board of Trustees members of the College are not eligible to receive an Honorary Doctorate.  The President of the College may make an exception to this exemption with the consultation of the Honorary Degree Selection Committee and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.


The nominee should not be made aware of the nomination and letters of support should not be solicited to support the nomination.  Strict confidentiality is maintained by the Selection Committee while discussing the nominations and throughout the selection process.  Unfortunately not all extraordinary nominees can be honored and a failed nomination may be embarrassing or harmful.

Nomination and Selection

Nomination Process

Anyone may nominate an individual that they believe should receive an Honorary Doctorate from the College.  To nominate and individual, please submit your nomination through the Honorary Doctorate Nomination Form.  Self-nominations will not be considered.  Nominations submitted by June 30 will be considered for the Commencement Ceremony in the following December.  Nominations submitted by November 30 will be considered for the Commencement ceremony in the following May. Nominations should include a short vitae or biography of the nominee, an explanation of why the nominee is worthy of consideration, and any known affiliation with the College.

Selection Process

The Honorary Doctorate Selection Committee is comprised of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Dean of Graduate Studies, Dean of Students, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, a representative of the Executive Office, and the Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs.  The Committee will meet after the nomination deadline to review and evaluate the nominees. The Committee will evaluate the merits and contributions of the nominees. The Committee will rank a group of recommended recipients and provide their recommendations to the College President.  The College President maintains the discretion to either add or remove individuals to the final slate of nominees. The final slate of nominees will be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval. Final selection of Honorary Degree Recipient(s) will be made by the College President and Board of Trustees.

Commencement Speaker

The College President may invite an Honorary Degree recipient to serve as Commencement Speaker.  Should the College President choose to invite a Commencement Speaker that is not eligible to receive an Honorary Doctorate, and alternative distinction should be made.  Selection of the Commencement Speaker is made by the College President in consultation with the Board of Trustees and the Honorary Degree Selection Committee.

November 18, 2019

January 5, 2021

Board of Trustees