The honorary doctorate is the highest academic recognition Indiana University can bestow. While their accomplishments vary, all honorees demonstrate the highest standards of personal integrity and sincere concern for the public good. Honorees also demonstrate high standards for their work in one of the following areas:
- Scholarship or creative activity
- Professional development and achievement
- Public service to the world, the nation, the state, or the community
- Commitment to the development of Indiana University
- Excellence in any calling or occupation that visibly contributed to the development of society and serves as a model for present and future generations
In addition, candidates for the honorary degree generally have significant ties to the state of Indiana or to Indiana University through birth, residence, education, service, or notable achievement. Through this high honor, the university seeks to honor individuals who may serve as role models for students, faculty, alumni, and the people of the state as a whole.
Honorary degrees are not normally awarded to candidates for political office or to elected officials currently in office or to faculty, staff, or administrators currently in service. Retired or former faculty members must meet the same high standards for nomination as all other honorary degree candidates.
The process of committee, council, and board review is a long one, often taking one to two years from inception to the actual awarding of the degree at a public ceremony.
Candidates for an honorary doctorate can be nominated by any member of the university family. Nomination materials need not be extensive but should indicate the extraordinary nature of the candidate's life and contribution and should document the backing of the campus faculty and administration.
All nominations are referred to the Honorary Degrees Committee, whose recommendations are transmitted by its chairperson to the University Faculty Council. After approval by the University Faculty Council, the nominations are transmitted to the President of the University for submission to the Board of Trustees for formal action.
The honorary degree may not be awarded in absentia; but, if an approved nominee cannot be present at the convocation for which the degree was offered, the recommendation for the degree shall be reviewed annually by the Honorary Degrees Committee.