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Ceremonies Unit

Principles for Honorary Awards

The following principles have been drawn up by the Senate Advisory Panel on Ceremonies and Honorary Degrees to assist with the task of making a recommendation to Senate of a number of candidates to be given honorary awards from the University each year:

1. The University confers honorary awards in order to make a public statement of the University's values and commitments.

2. (a) Honorary Doctorates should be awarded to individuals who already hold an undergraduate or postgraduate award.  An Honorary Masters degree should normally be awarded to individuals without a degree.  The award should normally acknowledge or establish a clear on-going connection with Durham University, to be conferred upon a figure of considerable international distinction in a field of relevance to Durham.

(b) An Honorary Masters degree can also be proposed for retired non-academic staff who have made an exceptional and sustained contribution to the University and/or community beyond the requirements of their post.

(c) A Chancellor's Medal can be proposed for long-serving former (normally retired) members of academic staff who have made outstanding and continuing contributions to their discipline and the University.

(d) The Dunelmensis Award can be proposed for alumnus/a who have demonstrated a dedicated and prolonged service to the University.

3. Honorary Degrees should be given to individuals who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • The very highest standards of scholarship.
  • Outstanding achievement.
  • A long and meritorious service of national and international impact.
  • Meritorious and exceptional service by retired non-academic staff over a sustained period which is of substantial benefit to the University at an institutional level involving work beyond the requirements of their post, such as activities outside the University.

4. The Chancellor's Medal should be given to individuals who meet all the following criteria:

  • Former members of academic staff (normally retired) with a long and distinguished employment history at Durham University.
  • Have made outstanding and continuing contributions to research and education above and beyond normal expectations.
  • Continue to enhance the University's reputation nationally and internationally, normally, for at least five years post-retirement.

5. The Dunelmensis Award should be given to individuals who meet all the following criteria:

  • Alumnus of Durham University.
  • Have demonstrated meritorious and exceptional service in support of the University.
  • Participation in Durham's institutional advancement activities.
  • Evidence of enhancing the University's reputation nationally and internationally.

6. As a guide, no more than six Honorary Degrees, two Chancellor's Medals and one Dunelmensis Award will normally be conferred during the course of a calendar year.

7. There should be a balance over a period of time of the various disciplines or professions recognised by the award of Honorary Degrees.

8. Honorary Degrees should not be conferred upon active UK politicians.  The Chancellor's Medal should not be conferred upon current members of staff.

9. Eligibility to make nominations for honorary awards is restricted to current members of University staff.

10. Nominations for honorary degrees should also include the proposal of an Orator who will produce, with assistance from the Communications Office as required, and deliver a speech about the candidate at the Congregation ceremony.

11. The conferment of an honorary degree or Chancellor's Medal will normally occur within three years of the issue of an invitation or, if this time has elapsed, a new nomination must be submitted to the Panel for re-consideration.