The University of the South awards honorary degrees to recognize outstanding achievement by leaders in a variety of fields. In doing so, it seeks to honor the accomplishments of the recipients, build or affirm ties between them and the University, give members of the University community the opportunity to benefit from these ties, and bring honor and recognition to the University.

Provisions of University Ordinance 19

The awarding of honorary degrees is governed by Ordinance 19 of the University Ordinances and the procedures established by the Joint Regent-Senate Subcommittee on Honorary Degrees. Honorary degrees awarded by the University are in recognition of unusual achievements by individuals whose service to the Church, to arts and letters, to science or to human society have advanced the principles for which the University stands.   

Proper candidates include: 
  • Scholars of excellence
  • Alumni of distinction
  • Benefactors of the University
  • Outstanding Churchmen and Churchwomen
  • Persons of distinction whose contributions to the nation or humanity deserve recognition.

Nomination Process

The process for the review and approval of an honorary degree is confidential throughout the entire process.
See below for more information.

Nominations for honorary degrees are first considered by the Joint Regent-Senate Subcommittee on Honorary Degrees. The Subcommittee consists of three members chosen by the University Senate and up to three Regents appointed by the Chair of the Board of Regents.

The Joint Regent-Senate Subcommittee on Honorary Degrees establishes the procedures for the proposal of candidates to the Subcommittee for consideration. Nominations for honorary degrees may be brought forth by anyone in the University community, including alumni, friends, faculty, students, parents, or others who will submit information supporting the candidate(s) that affords members of the Joint Regent-Senate Subcommittee on Honorary Degrees the opportunity to complete due diligence on a candidate’s qualifications and eligibility for an honorary degree. Nominations should be sent to the Vice-Chancellor at 735 University Avenue, Sewanee, Tennessee 37375 or by electronic delivery.

Nominations are accepted on or before December 15 and June 1 each year and are reviewed quarterly by the Joint Regent-Senate Subcommittee on Honorary Degrees.

Nominations may be made using this form.

Approval Process

Once a nomination has been received, it will be reviewed by the Subcommittee at its regularly scheduled meetings. Factors considered by the Subcommittee include the accomplishments and distinction of a candidate, connections with the University of the South or the Episcopal Church, and likelihood of acceptance of an invitation. Any candidate proposed by the Subcommittee is considered next by the Regents Affairs Committee. If endorsed by the Regents Affairs Committee, the nomination will next be considered by the Board of Regents. When any such nomination has been approved by the Board of Regents, it moves to the University Faculty Senate for approval. Once approved by the Senate, the nomination is forwarded to the Vice-Chancellor who will determine at what point an invitation shall be extended. 


The nomination remains confidential throughout the nomination, approval, and invitation process, and those making nominations should not expect further communication about their nomination once it has been submitted. No information should be made public about any step in the process prior to the announcement that a recipient will be awarded the degree at a specific occasion. In particular, there should be no public acknowledgement that a person has been nominated, is under consideration, has been approved or not, except after the required approvals have been secured, the recipient has been invited by the Vice-Chancellor and has accepted, and the date for awarding the degree has been set.