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The first United States honorary degree doctorate in sacred theology was conferred on President Increase Mather of Harvard more than 400 years ago, in 1692. In the centuries since then, the honorary doctoral degree has evolved to become a unique opportunity for institutions of higher education. Through the conferral of honorary degrees, universities can recognize and celebrate the outstanding scholarly, creative or public service achievements of extraordinary individuals.

West Virginia University continues this tradition annually by honoring selected individuals whose outstanding contributions are important to West Virginia University, to the people of the State of West Virginia, or to the nation. These individuals have achieved the highest standards of excellence and illuminate, advance, ease, and inspire the human condition.

Each fall, the University community is invited to nominate outstanding individuals for the Honorary Doctorate Degree at West Virginia University. Successful candidates will meet one of the criteria listed below. Many nominees meet several of these criteria, but please note that a nominee only need meet one criterion to be nominated for and to receive an honorary degree. Current employees of West Virginia University are not eligible to receive Honorary Degrees.

  • The nominee has attained national/international pre-eminence in their field.
  • The nominee has provided distinguished and pre-eminent leadership in society.
  • The nominee has a sustained record of extraordinary philanthropy to West Virginia University, and/or has supported the University substantially in various ways.


A successful nomination packet will include the following:

  1. Cover sheet (use template included in packet)
  2. Complete vitae of the individual. 
  3. Letters of nomination. (It is recommended that these be specific, detailed and from reputable sources who are in the individual's professional field and/or who know the person well from some other context. The letters of nomination should define the characteristics consistent with our criteria that make the nominee truly special.)
  4. Other relevant materials (e.g., newspaper articles detailing achievements documentation of philanthropy to the University, references to the nominee in the print that illustrate his/her contributions to a community or field.)
Community or faculty nominators may wish to discuss the nomination with the dean of the college most closely associated with the proposed honorary degree.

Nominations must be received by Friday, October 6, 2023, for consideration for May 2024 conferral.

Incomplete nomination packets will not be considered. All nominations are completely confidential until final decisions have been made by the Honorary Degree Selection Committee, the Faculty Senate, the Board of Governors, and the President of West Virginia University. Nominees and nominators will be notified of the success of their nomination in January 2024.

Please send your nomination packets and direct questions regarding Honorary Degrees at WVU to:

Tamira Smith 
Office of the Provost 
West Virginia University 
P.O. Box 6203 
Morgantown, WV 26506