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Honorary Degrees

Nomination Process

The Office of the Secretary hereby requests nominations for honorary degree recipients. Strong candidates will be eminent individuals and scholars whose contributions are of general significance, and transcend geographical limitations. Nominations of individuals who have contributed significantly to the cultural or scientific development of the Southwest, or to the spiritual or material welfare of its people are especially welcome. A successful nominee must have an exemplary record of academic or public accomplishment in keeping with the University’s standards of rigor, quality, and significance. Honorary degrees are awarded at spring commencement. 

Nominators should submit a letter stating in sufficient detail reasons for the nomination. Please include biographical information, a record of accomplishment, and supporting letters. Because the Honorary Degree Committee must choose among illustrious nominees, please provide as complete a nomination as possible.

If a nominee is proposed by a person, department, or college representing a discipline other than that of the nominee (e.g., Music nominates a poet), the Committee will consult with the appropriate faculty before making a recommendation.

The nominations should be sent to the Office of the Secretary, Scholes Hall 103, MSC05 3340, or email secretary@unm.edu no later than Friday, October 16, 2015.

Policy for Awarding Honorary Degrees

The University of New Mexico wishes to recognize and thereby encourage individuals by awarding special honors to those persons who have contributed significantly to the cultural or scientific development of the Southwest, or to the spiritual or material welfare of its people. At the same time, due regard should be paid to eminent individuals and scholars whose contributions are of general significance and transcend geographic limitations. In no case should a passing courtesy to the University of New Mexico, such as the delivery of a commencement address, be the sole or principal cause for such honorary awards. The award of an honorary degree to a person seeking or holding a political office does not indicate endorsement by the University of New Mexico. Political involvement should not prevent selection of an individual for an honorary degree.

It is not the University's policy to award honorary degrees to active members of the faculty, staff, or administration. This does not preclude, in an exceptional case, the awarding of an honorary degree to an emeritus member of the faculty or to a former employee whose stature remains or becomes eminent in the years following active service with the University. In such exceptions, sufficient time shall have elapsed to ensure objectivity in the process of selection.

Honorary degrees will be awarded only upon the approval of the Regents, based on recommendations from the Honorary Degree Committee, whose membership is set out in the Faculty Handbook. The degrees are presented to recipients at the Spring Commencement ceremony.

Approved, Faculty 10/21/51
Approved, Regents 03/10/52
Amended, 12/17/63
Amended, 02/23/67
Amended, 1/14/69
Amended, 5/12/92
Amended and Approved, Regents 11/14/96

Past Honorary Degree Recipients

  • 2015 None awarded
  • 2014 Larry and Dorothy Rainosek, L.H.D., New Mexico Philanthropists
  • 2013 Dale Kempter, D.F.A., Nationally known Music Educator and Conductor
  • 2012 Jeff Bingaman, L.H.D., U.S. Senator
  • 2012 John Martin Campbell, Litt. D., Anthropologist, Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico
  • 2011 Herman Agoyo, L.H.D., Pueblo Advocate and Leader
  • 2011 Ron Gardiner, D.Sc., Watershed Technologist and Policy Analyst
  • 2011 John "Jack" Rust, L.H.D., Civic and Educational Enterprise Leader
  • 2010 Agnes Dill, L.H.D., American Indian Health and Education Advocate
  • 2010 Van Dorn Hooker, D.F.A., Architect
  • 2010 Cruz Reynoso, LL.D., California Supreme Court Justice
  • 2009 Tim McElvain, Jr., D.Sc., Geologist
  • 2009 Robert J. Stamm, D.Eng., Construction Industry Leader, Philanthropist and Community Volunteer
  • 2009 Jay Wright, Litt.D., Poet, Playwright and Essayist
  • 2008 Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Litt.D., Acclaimed American Indian Artist
  • 2008 Eugenie C. Scott, D.Sc., Scientific Advocate
  • 2008 Vicente T. Ximenes, L.H.D., Civil Rights Leader
  • 2007 Larry J. Gordon, L.H.D., Leader in Environmental and Public Health
  • 2007 Frank I. Sanchez, L.H.D., Community Activist and Public Service in New Mexico and the Southwest
  • 2007 Joe S. Sando, Litt.D., Noted Author and Scholar in Pueblo and Spanish Colonial History of the Southwest
  • 2006 Manuel Lujan, Jr., L.H.D., Political Figure and Lobbyist
  • 2006 John Perovich, L.H.D., Philanthropist and Former President of the University of New Mexico
  • 2006 Wilhelmina Phone, Litt.D., Linguist and Teacher
  • 2005 David Brugge, Litt.D., Anthropologist, Curator, Researcher, and Author
  • 2005 Leslie Marmon Silko, Litt.D., Author and Poet
  • 2005 Ricardo Montalbán, L.H.D., Humanitarian and Actor (Note: Montalbán was approved for the honorary degree by Faculty and Regents but was not present to accept.)
  • 2004 Denise Chavez, Litt. D., Writer, Actress, Director, Teacher
  • 2004 Edward Lewis, L.H.D., Co-founder, Publisher, Chairman and CEO Essence Communications
  • 2004 Stewart L. Udall, LL.D., Political Figure, Activist and Scholar of Culture and History of American SW
  • 2003 Jimmy Santiago Baca, Litt D., Poet
  • 2003 Klaus Keil, D.Sc., Scientist and Author
  • 2002 Simon J. Ortiz, Litt.D., Author and Poet
  • 2002 Angela Vachio, L.H.D., Founder of a Therapeutic Preschool
  • 2001 N. Scott Momaday, Litt.D, Author
  • 2001 Antoine Predock, D.F.A., Architect
  • 2000 John Nichols, Litt.D., Author
  • 1999 Sabine R. Ulibarri, Litt.D., Author, Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico
  • 1998 Bill Richardson, LL.D., United States Ambassador
  • 1997 Angel Gonzalez, Litt.D., Spanish Poet, Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico
  • 1997 Harrison Schmitt, Sc.D., Astronaut, U.S. Senator
  • 1996 Rudolfo Anaya, Litt.D., Author, Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico
  • 1996 Leonora Curtin Paloheimeo, L.H.D., Linguist, Writer, Painter
  • 1996 George Clayton Pearl, D.F.A., Architect
  • 1995 None awarded (Note Agnes Martin, Artist, was approved by Faculty and Regents for Honorary D.F.A. Degree. She declined the degree. She also declined in 1981.)
  • 1994 Henry Roth, Litt.D., Author
  • 1993 Robert Creeley, L.H.D., Poet
  • 1993 Ferrel Heady, LL.D., Educator and Former President of the University of New Mexico
  • 1992 Andrew S. Ciechanowiecki, L.H.D., Philanthropist
  • 1992 Garrett Eckbo, D.F.A., Landscape Architect
  • 1991 Anne Noggle, D.F.A., Photographer
  • 1990 Carl Gorman, L.H.D., Navajo Artist
  • 1990 Tony Hillerman, Litt.D., Author
  • 1990 Alberto Szekely, LL.D., Mexican Ambassador
  • 1989 Robert Holzer, Sc.D., Physicist
  • 1989 George Kubler, L.H.D., Historian (Art of Latin America)
  • 1988 Florence Ellis, L.H.D., Anthropologist
  • 1988 Stephen Reynolds, LL.D., State Engineer
  • 1987 Eliot Porter, D.F.A., Photographer
  • 1986 Frank V. Ortiz, LL.D., U.S. Ambassador to Argentina
  • 1986 John Donald Robb, D.Mus., Dean Emeritus of Fine Arts
  • 1986 Charles Tomlinson, Litt.D., British Poet
  • 1985 Richard Diebenkorn, D.F.A., Artist
  • 1985 Annie Dodge Wauneka, L.H.D., Native American (Navajo) Civic Leader
  • 1985 Raul Alfonsin, LL.D., President of Argentina
  • 1984 David Tenney Kimball, L.H.D., Industrialist
  • 1984 Gordon Randolph Willey, Litt.D., Archaeologist
  • 1983 Nathaniel Owings, D.F.A., Architect
  • 1983 Pete V. Domenici, LL.D., U.S. Senator
  • 1982 Frank Angel, Jr., L.H.D., Educator
  • 1981 Harold Enarson, L.H.D., President, Ohio State University
  • 1981 Douglas Schwarz, Litt.D., Director, School of American Research
  • 1981 Caswell Silver, Sc.D., Geologist
  • 1980 John Lewis, D.Mus., Founder of the Modern Jazz Quartet
  • 1980 Morgan Sparks, Sc.D., President, Sandia Corporation
  • 1980 Chester C. Travelstead, L.H.D., Provost Emeritus, University of New Mexico
  • 1979 Arturo Ortega, LL.D., Attorney, Past University of New Mexico Regent (President)
  • 1979 Louis Rosen, Sc.D., Physicist
  • 1979 Kurt Frederick, D.Mus., Musician
  • 1978 Cecil Andrus, LL.D., U.S. Secretary of the Interior
  • 1978 Cesar Sepulveda, LL.D., Ambassador at Large of Mexico
  • 1978 Pablita Velarde, Litt.D., Artist
  • 1978 Frantk Waters, Litt.D., Author
  • 1977 Theodore Cooper, Sc.D., U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health
  • 1977 Glenn L. Emmons, LL.D., Banker, Civic Leader, University of New Mexico Alumnus and Former Regent of University of New Mexico
  • 1977 John B. Jackson, D.F.A., Landscape Architect, Geographer and Scholar
  • 1976 Roland C. Rautenstraus, LL.D., President, University of Colorado; Engineer
  • 1975 Peter Hurd, L.H.D., Artist
  • 1974 Fray Angelico Chavez, L.H.D., Historian, Poet and Former Missionary
  • 1974 Clayton S. White, Sc.D., President/Director, Lovelace Foundation
  • 1973 None awarded
  • 1972 Shirley Mount Hufstedler, LL.D., Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals
  • 1972 France Vinton Scholes, L.H.D., Professor Emeritus, History; Former Academic Vice President and Dean of Graduate School at UNM
  • 1972 Ignacio Tinoco, Jr., Sc.D., Professor of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley
  • 1971 Howard C. Bratton, LL.D., U.S. District Judge
  • 1971 Raymond Jonson, L.H.D., Artist; Professor Emeritus, Art
  • 1970 Laura Gilpin, L.H.D., Photographer
  • 1970 Reuben G. Gustavson, LL.D., Scientist; Former President, University of Colorado; First President, Resources for the Future
  • 1970 William Morgan, Sr., Litt.D., Navajo Linguist
  • 1969 Tom L. Popejoy, LL.D., UNM President, 1948-68
  • 1969 Stanislaw M. Ulam, Sc.D., Mathematician
  • 1969 Robert W. Young, LL.D., Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • 1968 Brand Blanchard, L.H.D., Philosopher
  • 1968 Galo Plaza Lasso, LL.D., Secretary General, Organization of American States
  • 1968 Frederick C. Robbins, LL.D., Dean, Case Western Reserve University
  • 1968 Ramon Sender, Litt.D., Author, Teacher
  • 1968 William A. Keleher, LL.D., Attorney, Historian
  • 1968 H. Vearle Payne, LL.D., Federal District Court Judge, New Mexico District
  • 1967 John O’Hea Crosby, Litt.D., General Director, Santa Fe Opera
  • 1967 John Wainwright Evans, Sc.D., Director, Sacramento Peak Observatory
  • 1967 Jorge Isidoro Sanchez y Sanchez, LL.D., Educator
  • 1966 Robert O. Anderson, Litt.D., Industrialist
  • 1966 Ward Darley, LL.D., Physician
  • 1966 Roman Jakobson, Sc.D., Linguist, Literary Historian, Teacher
  • 1965 Palmer Hoyt, Litt.D., Editor and Publisher, The Denver Post
  • 1965 Ernst Krenek, D.F.A., Composer
  • 1964 Rene d’Harnoncourt, D.F.A., Director, Museum of Modern Art
  • 1964 William Howard Schuman, D.F.A., President, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
  • 1964 Everly John Workman, Sc.D., President, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
  • 1964 Lulu Wolf Hassenplug, Sc.D., Dean, School of Nursing, UCLA Center for the Health Sciences
  • 1964 Richard Buckminster Fuller, D.F.A., Engineer, Designer, Inventor
  • 1964 William Orville Douglas, LL.D., Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court
  • 1964 Henry Merritt Wriston, LL.D., Chairman, The American Assembly, formerly President, Brown University
  • 1964 John Dale Russell, LL.D., Former Executive Secretary, BEF
  • 1964 Georgia O’Keefe, D.F.A., Artist (Santa Fe)
  • 1964 Robert Moody McKinney, LL.D., Editor and Publisher New Mexican, former Ambassador to Switzerland
  • 1964 Felix Candela, D.F.A., Architect-Engineer (Mexico)
  • 1963 Hugh Beistle Woodward, LL.D., Businessman, Attorney, Conservationist
  • 1963 Agapito Rey, Litt.D., Agapito Rey, Teacher, Author (Tucson, Arizona)
  • 1963 Paul Horgan, Litt.D., Author (Middletown, Conn. And Santa Fe)
  • 1963 Kenner Fisher Hertford, LL.D., Chief, Atomic Energy Commission, Albuquerque Operations Office
  • 1963 John Walter Gruner, Sc.D., Geologist (University of Minnesota)
  • 1962 Winfield Townley Scott, Litt.D., Writer (Santa Fe)
  • 1962 Witter Bynner, Litt.D., Poet (Santa Fe) (degree awarded in absentia)
  • 1962 Horace Marden Albright, LL.D., Conservationist, Corporation Consultant (U.S. Potash, Los Angeles)
  • 1961 Joseph Wood Krutch, Litt.D., Author (Tucson, Arizona)
  • 1961 Clara Brignac Gonzales, L.H.D., Reservation Principal, Zuni Pueblo
  • 1961 Victor Babin, D.F.A., Composer, Concert Pianist (Tesuque)
  • 1960 Arthur Newton Park, LL.D., President, Charles Lathrop Pack Forestry Foundation
  • 1960 John Gaw Meem, D.F.A., Architect (Santa Fe)
  • 1960 Rosser Lynn Malone, LL.D., Attorney (Roswell), Immediate Past President, American Bar Assn.
  • 1959 Emil Walter Haury, LL.D., Archaeologist, Chairman, Department of Anthropology and Director, Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona
  • 1958 Estella Ford Warner, Sc.D., Physician (Albuquerque), U.S. Public Health Service (retired)
  • 1958 Carl Michael Richter, Litt.D., Author (Pine Grove, Pennsylvania)
  • 1958 Andrew Dasburg, D.F.A., Artist (Taos)
  • 1958 Harriet Silliman Cosgrove, Sc.D., Archaeologist (Albuquerque)
  • 1957 Frank Harold Hanna Roberts, Jr., LL.D., Archaeologist (Associate Director, Bureau of Ethnology, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.)
  • 1957 James Webb Young, LL.D., Advertising Consultant (Santa Fe)
  • 1956 Thomas Sydney Bell, LL.D., Attorney, Lumberman, Businessman, Scholar, and Botanist (Pasadena, California)
  • 1956 Howard Riley Raper, D.D.S., LL.D., Radiodontist, Specialist in Dental X-rays and Diagnostics (Albuquerque, NM)
  • 1956 John Milne, LL.D., Educator, Superintendent of Schools (Albuquerque, NM)
  • 1955 Francis Fergusson, Litt.D., Literary Critic, Professor, Department of Comparative Literature Rutgers University
  • 1955 Paul Alfred Francis Walter, LL.D., Banker, Author (Santa Fe)
  • 1955 Judson Eugene Owens, LL.D., Tax Agent of Santa Fe Railroad
  • 1954 George Gaylord Simpson, Sc.D., Geologist, American Museum of Natural History
  • 1954 George Peter Hammond, LL.D., Professor of History and Director of the Bancroft Library, University of California
  • 1954 Harper Collins Donaldson, LL.D., Former Superintendent of Menaul School
  • 1954 Sam Gilbert Bratton, LL.D., Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th District
  • 1953 Myrtle Greenfield, LL.D., Director, N.M. Public Health Laboratory
  • 1953 Ross Calvin, LL.D., Rector, St. James Episcopal Church, Scholar and Author (Clovis, NM)
  • 1953 Norris Edwin Bradbury, LL.D., Director, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
  • 1952 Father Berard Haile, O.F.M., LL.D., Research on Navajo Ceremonialism and Linguistics
  • 1952 James Stokley Ligon, LL.D., New Mexico Game Department, formerly Regional Inspector for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • 1952 Kenneth Milton Chapman, L.H.D., Professor Emeritus of Indian Art, University of New Mexico
  • 1951 George Boas, LL.D., Professor, History of Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University
  • 1950 Harold Walter Stoke, LL.D., President, Louisiana State University
  • 1949 Clyde Kay Maben Kluckhohn, L.H.D., Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University and Director, Russian Research Center, Harvard
  • 1948 J. Anton de Haas, LL.D., Professor of International Relationships, Claremont Men’s College
  • 1947 Clarence Addision Dykstra, LL.D., Provost, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 1947 J. Robert Oppenheimer, Sc.D., Professor of Physics, University of California Institute of Technology (Director, Institute for Advanced Study since October 1947)
  • 1947 Kirk Bryan, Sc.D., Professor Physiography, Harvard
  • 1947 Ernest L. Blumenschein, M.F.A., Painter (Awarded several $1,000 prizes)
  • 1947 Fray Angelico Chavez, M.A., Research in Early New Mexico History (Author)
  • 1946 Robert L. Stearns, LL.D., President, University of Colorado
  • 1946 Vicente Teodulo Mendoza, M.Mus., Mexican Musician and Educator (Music)
  • 1946 Earl Lake Moulton, M.A., President and General Manager, Charles Ilfeld Co.
  • 1946 William Aloysius Keleher, M.A., Lawyer and Author
  • 1946 Howard Landis Bevis, LL.D., President, Ohio State University
  • 1945 None awarded
  • 1944 Ernest T. Pyle, Litt.D., Scripps-Howard War Correspondent
  • 1944 Alfonso Caso y Andrade, Sc.D., Mexican Lawyer and Archaeology Professor
  • 1944 Jaime Torres Bodet, Litt.D., Minister of Public Education, Mexico
  • 1944 Pablo Martinez del Rio, Litt.D., Mexican Historian and Educator
  • 1944 Alexander Grant Ruthven, LL.D., President, University of Michigan
  • 1944 Francisco Villagran Prado, LL.D., Rector National University, Mexico
  • 1944 Rudolfo Brito Foucher, LL.D., Director, National Preparatory School, National Autonomous University of Mexico
  • 1943 Fabian Garcia, Sc.D., Director, Agricultural Experimental Station, State College, New Mexico
  • 1943 Erna Fergusson, Litt.D., Author
  • 1943 Homer Price Rainey, LL.D., President, University of Texas
  • 1942 Douglas Wilson Johnson, LL.D., Professor and Executive Officer, Department of Geology, Columbia University
  • 1941 Joaquin Ortega, Litt.D., Professor and Chairman, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Wisconsin
  • 1941 James Ross McCollum, LL.D., Albuquerque Elementary School Principal Investigator of School Financial Problems
  • 1941 Robert Lincoln Kelly, LL.D., Emeritus Executive Officer, Association of American Colleges (former President)
  • 1940 Robert Gordon Sproul, LL.D., President, University of California
  • 1939 Harry Llewellyn Kent, LL.D., Director, Administrative Research, Texas Technical College
  • 1939 Harold L. Ickes, LL.D., Secretary of the Interior
  • 1938 Rufus B. von Kleinsmid, LL.D., President, University of Southern California
  • 1937 Herbert E. Bolton, LL.D., Chairman, Department of History, University of California
  • 1936 Robert MacDonald Lester, LL.D., Secretary of the Carnegie Corporation
  • 1935 Rexford G. Tugwell, Litt.D., Under Secretary of Agriculture
  • 1934 Frederick Webb Hodge, LL.D., Director, Southwest Museum, Los Angeles, Ethnologist (Excavated One of the Seven Cities of Cibola)
  • 1934 Alfred Vincent Kidder, LL.D., Archaeologist (Excavated Pecos, NM)
  • 1934 Edgar Lee Hewett, L.H.D., Director, School of American Research and Head Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, UNM
  • 1934 Aurelio Macedonia Espinosa y Martinez, LL.D., Professor and Head of Department Romance Languages, Stanford University
  • 1933 Mary Austin, LL.D., Author
  • 1933 Florence M. Bailey, LL.D., Author
  • 1932 None awarded
  • 1931 Herman G. James, LL.D., President, University of South Dakota
  • 1930 Thomas Reed Powell, Doctor of Civil Law., Langdell Professor of Law, Harvard University
  • 1929 Clarence Cook Little, LL.D., President, University of Michigan
  • 1928 Ray Lyman Wilbur, LL.D., President, Stanford University
  • 1927 Charles E. Hodgin, LL.D., Retired 1925 as Vice President, UNM
  • 1927 David Ross Boyd, LL.D., President, UNM 1912-19
  • 1926 John C. Futrall, LL.D., President, University of Arkansas
  • 1925 William A. Pusey, LL.D., Professor Emeritus (Dermatology, Chicago) from 1915 on. Honored in five foreign countries, early leader in fight against syphilis, campaigned for safe birth control in 1925. President, American Medical Association, 1924.
  • 1924 John J. Tigert, LL.D., U.S. Commissioner of Education