Honorary Degrees

The Guilford College Bylaws state that “This authority [of the Board of Trustees], upon the recommendation of the president, shall include but not be limited to the following illustrative functions: ... Approve all earned and honorary degrees as the faculty shall recommend.” (Section 2.2) This information establishes the criteria for honorary degrees and the process by which awardees would be recommended by the faculty and president.


The honorary degree is one of the highest recognitions any college can bestow and therefore is not granted lightly. It is intended to honor an individual who has a sustained record of achievements of lasting significance. Associating these honorees more closely with Guilford would raise the profile of the College, thereby benefitting admissions, overall engagement and philanthropy.

The Doctor of Letters, Doctor of Humane Letters or Doctor of Science would be awarded to individuals who meet the stated criteria. No more than one honorary degree would be awarded in any academic year.


Persons nominated for consideration for honorary degrees should have made distinguished and broad contributions to society. These may be in the traditional areas of scholarship and creative arts, research and development, the learned professions, public service, philanthropy, or business and industry. It would be desirable for these contributions to reflect all or most of the Core Values (community, diversity, equality, excellence, integrity, justice and stewardship) with an emphasis on excellence and integrity. Contributions to society that reflect principled problem solving are also desirable.

It is desirable, but not required, that the people selected have had some connection with Guilford College and its mission. It is also desirable, but not required, that recipients of honorary degrees be widely known by the general public.

Persons currently serving on the faculty or staff of the College ordinarily would not be eligible.