Honorary Degrees Board

Terms of Reference and Membership 2019-2020


To approve or reject nominations for Honorary Degrees and Distinguished Honorary Fellowships; to ensure that appropriate awards are given.

(See criteria and notes below)


  1. To consider nominations for Honorary Degrees and Distinguished Honorary Fellowships.
  2. To recommend nominations for Honorary Degrees and Distinguished Honorary Fellowships to Senate and Council.
  3. To consider, record and address the potential equal opportunity impacts of decisions made by the Board (in accordance with the ’due regard’ provisions of the Equality Act 2010)

Reports to

Senate and Council

Membership 2019-2020

  1. The President and Vice-Chancellor (Chair): Professor Edmund Burke [from November 2019: Professor Nishan Canagarajah]
  2. The Chair of Council: Mr Gary Dixon
  3. The Treasurer: Mr Ian Johnson
  4. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International): vacancy
  5. The Heads of College:
    1. Professor Phil Baker
    2. Professor Paul Monks
    3. Professor Henrietta O'Connor
  6. The Public Orators:
    1. Dr Paul Jenkins
    2. Professor Graham Shipley
    3. Mr Nigel Siesage
  7. The Chairs of the Equality Action Groups
    1. Disability Action Group: Professor Martin Mahaut-Smith
    2. Gender Equality Action Group: Professor Pascale Lorber
    3. LGBT Action Group: Professor David Clarke
    4. Race Equality Action Group: Professor Neil Chakraborti
  8. The President of the Students’ Union: Ms Oge Obioha
  9. The Registrar and Chief Operating Officer: Mr Dave Hall

Duration of appointment

All appointments are ex-officio.

Secretariat - Secretary

Mr D Hall

Assistant Secretary

Ms A K Benson

Frequency of Meetings

Meetings normally occur once per annum, usually in the Autumn Term, with a further meeting taking place in the Spring Term should sufficient nominations not be approved.


5 members

Criteria for the consideration of nominations for Honorary Degrees

The Honorary Degrees Board has adopted the following criteria, which should be taken into account when preparing a nomination:

An honorary degree is one of higher education’s most significant accolades. It is the policy of the University to award honorary degrees on a selective basis to distinguished individuals who merit special recognition for genuine achievement and distinction in a field or activity consonant with the mission of the University. The Board will apply this fundamental criterion in assessing nominations and making its recommendations to Council and Senate.

Subject to this, the following characteristics (which are not exclusive) in a candidate will tend to strengthen a nomination:

  • Exceptional academic achievement, particularly in fields for which the University is renowned
  • Outstanding achievement – public, civic, intellectual, business, cultural or sporting
  • A strong connection with Leicester, Leicestershire or Rutland
  • A close University connection:
    • as an alumna/alumnus
    • as a result of sustained and productive academic collaboration
  • The award will create or strengthen a relationship which will add to the University’s standing, and offers potential for the future
  • The recipient provides a role model to graduating students or is otherwise likely to add value to a degree congregation, engage the interest of the students and enhance the graduation experience.

Accomplishments such as the following will not in themselves be sufficient reason for an award: holding public office, acts of philanthropy, enjoying popular acclaim or celebrity, service to the University or to another educational institution.

Honorary degrees will not be awarded posthumously or in absentia.

The Board will at all times take full account of the University’s commitment to equality in its deliberations.

Notes for making nominations for honorary degrees

  1. Calls for nominations will be issued occasionally through normal University communications channels. There will be an annual closing date, normally towards the end of the Summer Term, and nominations received by that date will be considered by the Board at its Autumn meeting, Nominations may be made at any up to the closing date. It should be noted that there are usually many more nominees for degrees than it is possible to award. 
  2. Nominations should be submitted, in confidence, to the President and Vice-Chancellor through the Assistant Secretary to the Board (Ms Benson).
  3. A full case must be made by the person nominating the candidate. This includes:
    • detailed reasons for the nomination
    • a brief curriculum vitae (to the extent that this is possible without consulting the candidate)
    • other background information that may be useful (e.g. Wikipedia or Who's Who entry)
    • the candidate’s contact details
    • Without this information it will not be possible to put the nomination forward to the Board
      It is essential that the candidate not be aware that the nomination is being considered.
  4. Ordinance IV.2 permits the award of any degree of the University as an Honorary Degree, but the Honorary Degrees Board will ordinarily restrict its recommendations to the award of Doctorates and (more rarely) Master’s degrees (MA, MSc and LLM). The D.Sc. is normally awarded for contributions in science, medicine and engineering; the D.Litt. for contributions in the arts, humanities and social sciences; the D.Mus. for distinction as a musician, composer or academic student of music; and the LLD may be awarded either for distinction in the field of law or in recognition of a major contribution in such fields as public service, business and industry or sport.

Criteria for the consideration of nominations for Distinguished Honorary Fellowships

There will be a maximum of 24 Distinguished Honorary Fellows at any one time.

The overarching criteria for the award of Distinguished Honorary Fellowships are the same as those for the award of Honorary Degrees. In addition Fellowships will be awarded only to persons who:

  1. Have a substantial record of personal service to the University
  2. Already hold an honorary degree of the University.

Note on nominations for Distinguished Honorary Fellowships

Nominations may be made only by the Vice-Chancellor and members of the Honorary Degrees Board, which will make recommendations for consideration by Senate and Council. Fellowships will normally be awarded at Degree Congregations.