Faculty Handbook 2019-2020

F.2.a. Honorary Degrees

The highest award offered by Hendrix College is the honorary degree. The College awards honorary degrees on a selective basis to distinguished individuals who merit exceptional recognition for substantial achievement and distinction in a field or activity consonant with the mission of the College as articulated in the Statement of Purpose. The process and outcome is of utmost importance because through its choice of honorary degree recipients, the College makes a public declaration of its own values. This award is distinct from other awards offered by the College in that it is not limited to, while not excluding, alumni or those making a direct impact on the College. The Board of Trustees authorizes honorary degree conferral upon recommendation by the Faculty as is codified in Section 16 of the By-Laws of Hendrix College.

Honorary degrees are conferred honoris causa, "for the sake of honor." Honorary degrees include but may not be limited to Doctor of Laws, honoris causa; Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa; or Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

In instances when an organization rather than an individual is granted the highest honorary commendation from the College, the honor is called the Spirit of Hendrix award. The process for the Spirit of Hendrix award is identical to the process for honorary degrees outlined below.

Criteria. An honorary degree may be awarded to a person or organization satisfying the following criteria:

  • Outstanding accomplishment in the honoree's field, with national status wherever appropriate;
  • Demonstration of the values articulated in the Statement of Purpose of the College, making the honoree a fitting role model for students;
  • Some tie to Hendrix, Arkansas, or this region of the country which makes recognition especially appropriate.

Procedures. The following process is used by the College to select recipients of this honor starting in the Spring of 2008.

The following persons associated with Hendrix College are authorized to nominate candidates to receive honorary degrees:

  • The President
  • Current and former members of the Board of Trustees
  • Current and retired members of the Faculty and Staff
  • Alumni
  • Current students
  • Parents of current students and parents of alumni

Nominations are to be made to the Committee on Honorary Degrees using the Honorary Degree Nomination Form sent out with the call for nominations, appended to this document, or available upon request from the Chair of the Honorary Degrees Committee. The call for nominations is drafted by the Chair of the Committee on Honorary Degrees and is approved by the committee. Appropriate College channels are used to disseminate the call for nominations.

Honorary Degrees Committee membership includes: three full-time members of the Faculty appointed by the Committee on Committees, two members of the Board of Trustees of the College appointed by the chair of the Board of Trustees, one representative from the Alumni Board of Governors, and the Executive Vice President and Dean of Advancement and Planning as an ex officio member.

The Honorary Degrees Committee reviews nominations and discuss potential candidates’ fulfillment of the above listed criteria. Through a voting process, they narrow nominations to no more than three qualified recommended nominees. The final vote on nominees in the committee is conducted by secret ballot; at least 2/3 of the committee must vote in the affirmative for a particular nominee to move forward in the process. The Honorary Degrees Committee also determines which of the possible honors is suitable for each nominee (Doctor of Laws, Doctor of Humane Letters, Doctor of Science, or Spirit of Hendrix). A list of nominations, along with summarized supporting information for each nominee, is submitted to the Academic Policy Council for discussion following the same process as recommendations from other faculty standing committees. Academic Policy places the item on the faculty meeting agenda for discussion. At the following faculty meeting the Faculty selects, through normal voting procedures, the final candidate to be recommended to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees, through normal voting procedures, votes to either affirm or deny the conferral of the honorary degree.

Timeline for Honorary Degree Nomination, Deliberation, and Conferral

 Electronic call for nominations
 Nominations with supporting material due to the Committee on Honorary Degrees
 List of nominees with supporting material forwarded to the Honorary Degrees Committee for screening
September or October
 List of recommendations sent to the Academic Policy Committee
October or November
 Faculty meeting discussion of possible nominees
November or January
 Faculty meeting action on degree nominees
February Presentation of Nominee to the Board of Trustees by the President
 Degree recipient is contacted and invited to accept award
May or sometime during the subsequent two years
 Conferral of honorary degree at Commencement, a specially called Convocation, or other Campus event

The nomination and deliberation process is conducted with the strictest confidentiality at every point in the process.

Generally, the College shall award one, but no more than one, honorary degree in a single academic year.

Expiration of the board’s approval. The College may award an honorary degree to an approved candidate at any time within two years of the Board's granting of that approval. After that time, the Honorary Degrees Committee must reconsider the nominee and again secure the Faculty recommendation and Board's approval of the candidate.

Limitations. No honorary degree shall be conferred unless the recipient is present at conferral except in the rare event that the degree is being awarded posthumously.

The College shall not grant an honorary degree to current members of the Faculty or Administration.

Recipients of honorary degrees shall not usually receive a speaker's fee or honorarium. However, travel and lodging expenses may be covered by the College. In exceptional circumstances the Honorary Degrees Committee may request that the Board provide an honorarium to the recipient of an honorary degree.

A nomination form appears in the Faculty Resources section of the Hendrix website.

Reconsideration and Revocation. Hendrix College may consider revoking an honorary degree or other award held by a living recipient if the College later discovers important information that contradicts or undermines the grounds for granting the honor, including but not limited to the honored individual's personal and professional conduct. Honorary degrees and other awards are granted in good faith based not only on an individual's accomplishments (whether specific or lifelong), but also on the evidence of an honorable public and private life.

Because the granting of such a degree or award symbolically links the honored person to the institution, evidence of a significant departure from the mission and values of the College as articulated in the Statement of Purpose is grounds for evocation.

Procedures for Requests for Revoking an Honorary Degree

The groups responsible for the revocation of an honorary degree or other College award shall be the same groups responsible for considering the conferral of such a degree or award: The Board of Trustees, the Council on Academic Policy, the Committee on Honorary Degrees, and the faculty. The Board of Trustees, in accordance with its role in granting honorary degrees and other awards, will have the final authority in the revocation.

Any of the people who can nominate candidates for an Honorary Degree (see the above section under Procedures) can submit a written request to the President to revoke an honorary degree or award. The President will share all such requests with the Committee on Honorary Degrees or appropriate committee; that committee will collect appropriate information about any person whose honorary degree or award is under consideration for revocation. If the Committee decides by a two-thirds majority of its membership to proceed toward a revocation of the honorary degree, it will send all necessary materials to be put before the faculty through the appropriate process.

Unless there are special circumstances or a need to extreme urgency, the Committee will provide adequate time for the consideration by the faculty of any proposal for an honorary degree or award's revocation. If there are special circumstances, the President may take action to revoke an honorary degree by presenting a request to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, who will vote on the request. The Faculty will be notified of any action taken as early as possible.

If a two-thirds majority of the faculty recommends revocation, the President will convey that recommendation, along with all supporting materials, to the Board of Trustees. A two-thirds majority of that Board is required for the revocation of the degree or award.

Discussions of the revocation of an honorary degree or award, like those focused on the awarding of such a degree or honor, should be held in confidence at every point in the process described above. In the event of a positive vote for revocation, the President will communicate the decision to the individual previously honored and to the college community, as appropriate.