Williams has conferred honorary degrees since 1795. All members of the college community are encouraged to make nominations, from which each year the Honorary Degrees Advisory Committee recommends to the full Board of Trustees a group of potential recipients who have excelled in diverse fields and stand as inspiring examples for our graduating students. Each year one recipient delivers the Commencement address, and one delivers the Baccalaureate address. Guidelines for nominations are below the form. Before submitting your nomination, please check to ensure that the person hasn’t already received an honorary degree. Nominations for bicentennial medal winners to receive an honorary degree are welcomed.
Guidelines for nominations
The panel of honorary degree recipients in each year should reflect all the dimensions on which Williams students, parents and alumni are diverse, among them their experiences, ethnicity, gender, and modes of leadership. The same should be true of the two speakers, although this may need to be true over time rather than in any one year.
- For Honorary Degree: Exceptional accomplishment in an important field of
endeavor in any sector: public, private, academic, arts, or non-profit
- For Baccalaureate Speaker: Keeping in mind that this service is traditionally an occasion for reflection and incorporates elements of spiritual traditions, someone whose contribution as a speaker would be well suited to the occasion
- For Commencement Speaker: A wide range of possibilities. Someone who, in addition to qualification for an honorary degree is likely to be a particularly effective and interesting public speaker. Note the stature and qualifications of Commencement speakers shape expectations (students, parents, and others) about an essentially celebratory event.