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Honorary Degrees

Overview and Nomination Process

The University of Houston System seeks to honor outstanding individuals in fields such as public service, the arts and sciences, the professions, business, religion, and philanthropy. Nominations are invited for individuals of true distinction and/or who have made exceptional contributions to the University of Houston.  An honorary degree should honor the recipient, the University, and the System.

According to University of Houston System Board of Regents Policy 21.02 "Employees and regents of the system and officials currently holding elective offices are ineligible to receive honorary degrees; however, persons of national prominence in their field are excepted from this restriction."

The selection process consists of the following:

  1. Nominations are accepted at any time, with a formal request for nominations distributed to key support groups each year.
  2. An internal advisory committee will review nominations.
  3. The names of the candidates identified as acceptable by the advisory committee will be given to the Chancellor with appropriate documentation.
  4. From that list, the Chancellor will recommend who should be awarded an honorary degree during either fall or spring commencement.
  5. The Board will provide guidance to the Chancellor in the final selection process.

To assist the advisory committee in its deliberations, please include the following items for consideration:

  • A letter of nomination describing the nominee's qualifications relative to the criteria given above;
  • Curriculum vitae or professional resume of the nominee;
  • A completed UHS Honorary Degree Nomination Form. Feel free to reproduce the form and vary the length of sections, but the document should be limited to two pages;
  • Other supporting letters, pertinent data, or additional relevant information that may be deemed appropriate.

Please refrain from contacting the nominee. The advisory committee will be required to preserve the confidentiality of the nominations as well.

As you are no doubt aware, it is required that honorary degree recipients attend the award ceremony. In order to enhance the likelihood that those selected to receive honorary degrees, who are typically very busy people, will be able to schedule participation in award related events. Accordingly, please submit nominations and supporting information on or before Friday, September 27, 2019. Please submit nominations to facultyaffairs@uh.edu or to the below address:

University of Houston
204 E. Cullen Building
Houston, Texas 77204-2019
Attn: Faculty Affairs

For your convenience, a listing of the past University of Houston System honorary doctoral degree recipients are also located on this site and biographies for past recipients can be found here.

Thank you for your interest and participation in this process.

Past Recipients

1938

  • Hugh Roy Cullen and Lillie Cranz Cullen

1950

  • Edison E. Oberholtzer

1980

  • The Honorable Aaron J. Farfel

1984

  • George P. Mitchell
  • Oveta Culp Hobby

1985

  • Gerald Griffin
  • George A. Butler

1986

  • Barron Hilton
  • Philip Johnson

1987

  • LeRoy and Lucile Melcher
  • Philip G. Hoffman

1988

  • Wilhelmina Cullen Robertson

1989

  • Robert A. Moshbacher
  • Aaron Cohen

1990

  • Donald Barthelme
  • Norman J. Ramsey

1991

  • Faith Bybee
  • Christoph Eschenbach
  • Eric M. Hilton
  • Catalina Villalpando
  • Rafael Angel Calderon Fournier

1992

  • Jacques-Louis Lions
  • Gurji Ivanovich Marchu
  • David Gockley

1993

  • Luis Garibay
  • William Lawson, Jr.

1994

  • George H. W. Bush
  • Daniel Yergin
  • Ron Stone

1995

  • John Jay Moores
  • Nia Becnel
  • Carlos Menem

1996

  • Ernesto Cortes
  • Song Jian

1997

  • Edward Albee
  • Glenn Goerke
  • Governor William P. Hobby

1998

  • Kenneth L. Lay
  • Robert C. Lanier
  • Wilhelmina R. ”Beth” Morian
  •  Juan Oro

1999

  • Elizabeth Dennis Rockwell
  • James Ketelsen

2000

  • Roderick Paige
  • Irvin Borish

2001

  • C.T. "Ted" Bauer
  • James Nantz

2002

  • Jack Valenti
  • Jan De Hartog
  • Charles McMahan
  • John Lienhard

2003

  • Eduardo Aguirre, Jr.
  • Neal Amundson
  • Guy V. Lewis
  • Loretta Devine

2004

  • No Degrees Awarded

2005

  • No Degrees Awarded

2006

  • Maconda Brown O'Connor
  • Margaret Spellings

2007

  • Ray Miller
  • Leonard Rauch

2008

  • No Degrees Awarded

2009

  • No Degrees Awarded

2010

  • John Hofmeister
  • Lyle Lovett

2011

  • Walter Kase
  • Kenneth Parr
  • Herman D. Suit

2012

  • Gerald D. Hines
  • Brian A. Holden
  • Nicholas Massad, Jr.
  • Christina Rivera Garza
  • Ruth J. Simmons

2013

  • Edith Irby Jones
  • Belle Griggs Johnson
  • James Parsons
  • Welcome Wilson, Sr.

2014

  • Dinesh Singh

2015

  • James McIngvale
  • Melvyn Wolff

2016

  • Glenn T. Lilie
  • James Victor Samuels
  • Gilbert Russell Ybarra

2017

  • Michael J. Cemo
  • Richard B. Davis

2018

  • Stephen Stagner

2019

  • Cyvia Grossberg Wolff