A centuries-old tradition of significant recognition
The Honorary Degree is the highest academic recognition Indiana University can bestow. In awarding such degrees, Indiana University places itself within one of the great traditions of higher education. That tradition dates back to the Middle Ages when Oxford University presented Lionel Woodville with the Doctor of Canon Law in the late 1470s. Harvard University has the distinction of becoming the first American college to award an honorary degree when it presented Increase Mather with the Doctor of Sacred Theology in 1692. Only 14 years after the university’s founding, Indiana University awarded its first honorary doctorate to William Henry, who received the Doctor of Divinity in 1834.
Individuals receiving honorary degrees from Indiana University have made significant contributions to society, serving as models for current and future generations. They have demonstrated, in their life and in their work, the highest standards of excellence in their fields of endeavor whether in scholarship or creative activity; professional development and achievement; or public service to the world, the nation, the state, or the community.
As a leading public research university, Indiana University bears a particular responsibility to acknowledge and honor persons of outstanding achievement who have significant ties to the state or the university. As a university of national and international stature, Indiana University has an equally important responsibility to identify and honor persons of national and international prominence who are the leaders of their fields of creative and professional endeavor.
It is a privilege for Indiana University to count such distinguished individuals as honorary alumni.