Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. What are Honorary Degree and Granite State Awards?
 


Honorary Degrees
Honorary Degrees are awarded to individuals of national and/or international importance whose contributions have enhanced society as a whole, or who have otherwise brought significant enrichment or benefit to particular groups. Nominees may include (but are not limited to) alumni, University benefactors, and citizens of the State of New Hampshire.

Granite State Awards
Granite State Awards are awarded to citizens, agencies, corporations, and foundations of the State of New Hampshire whose achievements and/or extraordinary service in their own particular spheres have made significant beneficial contributions to the State. 


 

  2. How do I nominate a degree or award recipient?
 

The process is as follows:

  1. Complete the online nomination form found at http://nominations.unh.edu. If information cannot be posted online, please send to:
  2. Honorary Degrees and Awards Committee
    c/o Office of University Events & Programs
    New England Center
    15 Strafford Avenue
    Durham, NH 03824

  3. You will receive an email confirmation of your nomination.
  4. The nomination form will be reviewed for consideration by the Honorary Degrees and Awards Committee.
  5. The committee will send a list of recommendations for degree/award recipients to the president and the Board of Trustees for approval.
  6. The nominator will be notified if the nominee is selected.

    Questions? Email commencement.awards@unh.edu for assistance.

 

  3. How do I suggest a Commencement speaker?
 

If you have a suggestion for a commencement speaker, please visit http://nominations.unh.edu.

 

  4. What are the criteria for nominations?
 

Please read the descriptions below to determine which category to nominate an individual for the University of New Hampshire's most prestigious awards and designation at the Commencement Ceremony.

Honorary Degrees are awarded to individuals who meet one or more of the following criteria:

• Persons of national and/or international importance whose contributions have enhanced society as a whole.

• Persons who have brought significant enrichment or benefits to particular groups.

Nominees may include (but are not limited to) alumni, university benefactors, and citizens of the State of New Hampshire.

Granite State Awards are awarded to citizens, agencies, corporations, and foundations of the State of New Hampshire whose achievements and/or extraordinary service in their own particular spheres have made significant beneficial contributions to the State.

Commencement Speakers are chosen on the basis of their ability to inspire, motivate, and provide enlightenment to graduates by sharing experiences that elicit curiosity, instill knowledge, educate, and offer wisdom to students as they enter the next phase of their lives. Speakers should meet the criteria for receiving an Honorary Degree (see above).

Please note:

An individual may not nominate him or herself. Members of the Board of Trustees and members of the faculty and staff of the University System institutions should not, during their term of service or employment, be eligible for conferral of Honorary Degrees or Granite State Awards. Barring unusual and compelling circumstances, a reasonable interim (generally a period of not less than two years) should be allowed between retirement from service or employment and nomination of such individuals for this type of recognition.

Nomination Process (Deadline is October 31st for the following May Commencement ceremony)

Nominations will be accepted through October 31st for Honorary Degrees and Granite State Awards presented at the following May Commencement ceremony.

Providing detailed information on the online nomination form will ensure your nominee is given full consideration by the Honorary Degrees and Granite State Awards Committee and help distinguish him or her from the large pool of eligible candidates.


 

  5. What are the committee procedures and bylaws?
 

Procedures for the Committee on Honorary Degrees and Granite State Awards

Confidentiality is exercised throughout the nomination process.

  1. The Office of University Events and Programs announces the solicitation of nominations for Honorary Degrees, Granite State Awards, and commencement speaker suggestions every calendar year by September 15th.  The announcement will be sent to deans, directors, and department heads at the University and to the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association and the UNH Foundation.  The announcement will also be placed in the UNH Magazine.

  2. At appropriate times each academic year, the Board of Trustees shall be reminded--by the University System--of the opportunity to make nominations to the president and committee.

  3. Nominations and speaker suggestions will be submitted electronically via an online nomination form then reviewed by the chair of the committee.  Nominations and speaker suggestions may be presented for committee review by any member of the faculty, staff, student body, administration, Board of Trustees, or by an alumnus of the University or a member of the extended campus community including the general public who may have intimate knowledge of a nominee warranting consideration. An individual may not nominate himself or herself. The nominator or person suggesting a commencement speaker will be responsible for providing information on the nominee and suggested speaker.

  4. The chairperson of the committee will qualify nominees, and ask for further information from the nominator or person suggesting the commencement speaker, if necessary.  The chairperson will be responsible for distributing any pieces of additional information received separate from the electronic nomination form to members of the committee for review.

  5. The chairperson will convene the committee early in the academic year.  After a period of discussion during which committee members can advocate specific nominees and speakers, the members will rank nominees and speakers in order of preference.

  6. The committee will choose (but is not limited to) no more than four potential award nominees with two alternates who represent a reasonable mix from the following categories: the natural, physical, or social sciences; the fine arts or humanities; public life or business; and the performing arts. Nominees will be selected based on the following criteria:

    Honorary Degrees

    The following criteria are applied:

    • Individuals of national and/or international importance whose contributions have enhanced society as a whole, or who have otherwise brought significant enrichment or benefit to particular groups. Consideration is given to individuals who bring honor, prestige, and recognition to the State of New Hampshire (not required for an Honorary Degree).
    • Outstanding alumni of the University, whether residing in the state, out of the state, or out of the country.
    • Outstanding living benefactors of the University, whether their contributions are in-kind, service, or otherwise.

    Granite State Awards

    The following criteria are applied:

    • Granite State Awards are conferred by the USNH Board of Trustees to recognize leaders of business, industry, agriculture, trade associations, labor organizations, teachers in high or preparatory schools, professional persons, and citizens who have made outstanding contributions to New Hampshire (i.e., persons of prominence in their own communities who do not easily fit the categories of those eligible for Honorary Degrees, but who merit commendation). Granite State Awards are also conferred upon agencies, corporations, and foundations when they have provided extraordinary services or have otherwise provided great benefit to the state.
  7. The committee shall decide how many awards will be recommended, keeping in mind the average number of two Honorary Degree Awards and two Granite State Awards, and in what categories, considering a proper balance of fields.  By the Board of Trustee policy, the governor of New Hampshire must be given an Honorary Degree during his or her first term and will be notified of this recognition immediately after taking office.
  8. The committee shall be cognizant of the fact that members of the Board of Trustees and members of the faculty and staff of the University System institutions should not, during their term of service or employment, be eligible for conferral of Honorary Degrees or Granite State Awards. Barring unusual and compelling circumstances, a reasonable interim (generally a period of not less than two years) should be allowed between retirement from service or employment and nomination of such individuals for this type of recognition.

  9. The committee shall make recommendations for a commencement speaker keeping in mind that a donation to charity in the name of the speaker is preferred to an honorarium.  In addition, commencement speakers are awarded an Honorary Degree barring any unusual and compelling circumstances.  Ideally, commencement speakers should hold a college degree.  Commencement speakers without a college degree may be recommended to the president by a majority vote of the committee members. Commencement speakers should be recommended based on his or her ability to do the following:
    • Inspire, motivate, and provide enlightenment to graduates by sharing experiences that elicit curiosity, instill knowledge, and educate, and offer wisdom to students entering the next phase of their lives.
  10. The chairperson will make available a complete list of past nominees and a list of award recipients and commencement speakers for the University System for reference.  An Honorary Degree and a Granite State Award cannot be offered to a previous recipient unless there is substantial evidence of significant and distinct additional merit or service that warrants eligibility for a second nomination.
  11. A committee report and a list of nominees and alternates will be presented to the president’s office for approval.  Once approved, the list will be forwarded to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will make its selection and notify the committee chairperson. If the first-choice recipients for Honorary Degrees and Granite State Awards are unable to attend the ceremony, alternates will be contacted based on priority designated by the committee. Each year, alternates are approved for awards. Please note that alternates do not carry over, and must be resubmitted to the Board of Trustees in subsequent years in order to be considered for future awards.
  12. The chairperson of the committee will be responsible for contacting nominees and ascertaining their interest and availability on behalf of the president.
  13. The Office of University Events and Programs will issue a press release on the recipients of Honorary Degrees (including the commencement speaker) and Granite State Award recipients at its discretion.
  14. The chairperson of the committee will be the keeper of the confidential files of recommended candidates.
  15. The process will begin again the following September.