Distinction is the “prime controlling consideration” for an academic department’s nomination of an individual to receive an honorary UIS degree.  According to the Faculty Personnel Policy, “The person should have made a distinguished contribution to knowledge and creativity in the relevant field of endeavor, or have shown sustained activity of uncommon merit.  The contributions may be made in a wide range of activities; the following list is not exhaustive:

  • Scholarship, in any discipline: major breakthroughs in knowledge in fields of scholarly work.
  • Creative Arts, in the broad sense of the term: literature, music, visual arts, theater, et al; the development of new frontiers of creativity.
  • Professions: distinguished contributions, innovative work of distinction.
  • Public Service: outstanding achievement in public sector leadership, community service and public affairs.
  • Business and Industry: outstanding, innovative activity in the business community.

The Committee will consider but not be bound by, the degree to which the candidate has had some association with Illinois – the University or the State.  While alumni of the University should not be excluded, honorary degrees are not a means of recognizing their contributions; other awards exist for this purpose.  Current administrators, faculty, or staff of the University ordinarily are not eligible; emeriti are eligible even if engaged in teaching or research at the University.  Elected officials of the State of Illinois and its subordinate units and members of the Legislature, during their terms of offices, ordinarily are not eligible. ” (Appendix 11, section 11. Qualifications)

The Academic Personnel Calendar outlines the due dates for the honorary degree nomination process.

Past UIS honorary degree recipients


Karen Hasara, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters


Edgar J. Curtis, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters


Evelyn Brandt Thomas, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters


Gilbert N. Stein, honorary Doctor of Letters


James Stukel, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters


Governor James R. Thompson, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters


Edwin A. Lee MD, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters


Mary Jane Roach Masters, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
Governor Jim Edgar, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
James C. Worthy, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
Lt. Governor Paul Simon, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters


George Hatmaker, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters


George Hoffman, Doctor of Law, Honoris Juris

updated 3.15.2021