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Honorary Degrees


This process is based on the California State University Board of Trustees Policy for Awarding Honorary Degrees (PolicyStat ID 8888541). The campus-based process is subject to change based on changes to the CSU policy.


Process for Identifying Honorary Degree Candidates at Cal Poly

In all steps of this process, utmost care must be taken to ensure confidentiality. Individuals may not be contacted about the fact that they are under consideration for an Honorary Degree.


  1. Annually, but no later than Fall Convocation, a call for recommendations for Honorary Degrees shall be issued to the campus community. Deans are encouraged to consult broadly within their college to determine individuals to be considered for nomination.
  2. Under CSU policy, recommendations are encouraged from any member of the CSU community. However, recommendations that do not originate from the Cal Poly campus community are submitted through the Chancellor and are not part of this campus process.
  3. Individuals under consideration for an Honorary Degree shall be kept confidential and shall not be informed that they are being considered for an Honorary Degree. Individuals who are selected will be informed of their Honorary Degree selection by the President, or designee.
  4. All individuals recommended for Honorary Degree who qualify based on the criteria identified by the CSU, shall be submitted to the President’s Cabinet for consideration. The President’s Cabinet shall review all individuals suggested for consideration and will advance individuals for review by the Honorary Degree Selection Committee.
  5. Per CSU Policy, the Honorary Degree Selection Committee must include faculty representation. Additionally, CSU policy stipulates that the Executive Committee of the Academic Senate be consulted. At Cal Poly, the voting members of the Executive Committee serve as the Honorary Degree Selection Committee. This ensures both faculty representation on the selection committee and meaningful consultation with the Executive Committee of the Academic Senate. The Executive Committee of the Academic Senate shall affirm, annually, their desire to serve as the Selection Committee. Should the Executive Committee of the Academic Senate no longer serve as the Selection Committee, the President will consult with the Executive Committee to establish the Selection Committee.
  6. The Selection Committee shall review each individual nominee via the biographies and information advanced by Cabinet and known through any other sources and conduct a vote on each individual nominee in closed session. Cabinet members that participate in the Academic Senate Executive Committee may also participate in the closed session. Individuals that receive majority support of the Selection Committee will be advanced to the President for final consideration. At this time, if the campus is aware that another individual is being advanced by a trustee or the Chancellor to the CSU Board of Trustees for conferral of an Honorary Degree in the name of Cal Poly, the Selection Committee will be notified of this additional individual but not their identity (in order to uphold the confidentiality of the process).
  7. Should the Selection Committee support fewer than two nominees, the Cabinet may elect to bring additional individuals forward to the Selection Committee for consideration.
  8. Upon consultation with the Selection Committee, the Commencement Office will compile the nomination packets for the nominees on behalf of the Selection Committee and submit the packets to the President for consideration.
  9. The President shall review the packet of each individual recommended by the Selection Committee, consult with the Selection Committee and Academic Senate Executive Committee if needed, and select no more than two nominations to be forwarded to the Chancellor’s Office for Board of Trustees’ action. The Chairperson of the Academic Senate will receive a copy of each nomination packet submitted to the Board of Trustees.


This process shall be reviewed annually to ensure compliance with current CSU policy and may be updated by the President’s Cabinet in consultation with the Academic Senate Executive Committee.


Updated June 2022


Approved by President’s Cabinet: March 28, 2022

Endorsed by Academic Senate Chairperson: June 2, 2022

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