An honorary degree may be conferred only on persons of conspicuous merit or distinction who are outstanding in their academic or professional life or particular field or who have given exceptional service to the University. Honorary Degrees are not conferred upon current students of the University.
The award of an honorary degree should avoid the perception of political or partisan endorsement on behalf of the University.
An honorary degree shall not normally be conferred on a serving member of Council or a person currently employed by the University.
An honorary degree shall not, save in exceptional circumstance, be conferred in absentia.
When the Council has formally resolved to confer an honorary degree on a person, and the death of that person occurs before the conferment takes place, the honorary degree shall be deemed to have been conferred, the date of conferment deemed to be the day preceding the death.
The Council shall determine the maximum number of honorary degrees the University may confer in each academic year.
The Council may revoke the award of any honorary degree with the consent of the Senate, if good reasons shall have been shown to both bodies for so doing.
Following the conferral of an honorary degree, the recipient shall be entitled to use the letters DU Essex (Hon.) after their name. Recipients may also be referred to as “Dr”, but this must always be in conjunction with (Hon.) after the surname.
The University welcomes continued engagement with its honorary graduates to enrich the life of the University and the experience of students.
Criteria for assessing nominations
Council and Senate have determined that, when awarding honorary degrees, the Committee should have in mind distinction in:
- the fields of study represented in the University
- the arts
- industry and
- public service, including service to the University.
In accordance with the wishes of the Senate and Council, the Committee has approved the following criteria:
Distinction in academic fields
Nominations intended to honour outstanding academic achievement should relate to a field of study currently represented in the University and be endorsed by an appropriate member of academic staff.
Distinction in the arts
Nominations intended to honour achievement in the arts should reflect an outstanding contribution to the cultural and creative environment whether in the UK or abroad.
Distinction in sport
Nominations intended to honour achievement in sport should reflect sporting achievements whether in the UK or abroad. Nominations for those who have made a contribution beyond the sports arena are particularly welcomed.
Distinction in industry
Nominations intended to honour achievement in industry should reflect a particular individual’s personal contribution to the industry concerned, whether in the UK or abroad.
Distinction in public service
Nominations intended to honour achievement in public service must avoid any suggestion that the University is partisan. For this reason, the University maintains a convention of not considering serving politicians or active partisan campaigners, unless the award is to be made at a Graduation ceremony held outside of the country in which they are serving or active.
Distinction in service to the University of Essex
Nominations intended to honour achievement in service to the University itself must not be made with respect to someone currently employed by the University, and only in exceptional cases to someone recently retired from the University. The University has other means of expressing its appreciation of distinguished retired academic and other staff, for example through emeritus professorships, honorary fellowships and the naming of buildings, laboratories, rooms and prizes.
Other issues to be taken into account:
- There should preferably be some connection, whether academic, professional or personal, between the person being nominated and the University and/or the county of Essex. This may be indirect and take the form of local birth, local residence, former membership of the University as a student or member of staff, or congruence of interest in an academic area in which the University has a particular interest. Evidence of prior engagement with the University will also be taken into account;
- At the discretion of the Committee, the University will consider the award of an honorary degree to someone who already possesses such awards from other UK institutions, dependent on the number of previous awards, if the nominee is an Essex alumni or if achievements in their particular field merit particular consideration;
- In awarding honorary degrees, the University aims for a reasonable balance between the faculty disciplines. It also aims at a gender and ethnicity balance and to ensure that distinguished people from outside the UK are honoured, given the substantial proportion of students who come to the University from overseas; and
- The University does not normally accept a re-nomination after two previous unsuccessful attempts, unless there has been a long interval since the previous nomination and there is a significant change in the case being put forward.
- The University does not accept nominations for a current student at the University or at any of our Partnership Institutes, nor a staff member at any of those Institutes.
- The University does not accept self nominations.