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Honorary Degrees & Commencement Speaker
Nomination & Selection Process

Any member of the Smith community—students, faculty, staff, alumnae, trustees—may nominate an individual for an honorary degree and/or to serve as Commencement speaker.

The president sends an email to the junior class in the spring to encourage juniors to nominate individuals of stature as their Commencement speaker.

In the late spring, the president typically meets with a group of junior class leaders to talk about the selection of the speaker. Acknowledged in this meeting is the fact that highly visible personalities—heads of state and media celebrities, in particular—are much sought after, have complicated schedules and can be difficult to secure.


Eligibility for an honorary degree is defined follows: “The college will consider women who are exemplars of excellence in a wide range of fields, both academic and non-academic. The college will also consider women and men who have had special impact on Smith College, on the education of women, or on women’s lives.”

All nominations are reviewed by the Committee on Honorary Degrees to decide whether they meet the criteria for receiving an honorary degree. The committee is comprised of three students (the president of the senior class for one year and the president of the junior class for two years), three members of the faculty and three staff members (appointed by the president), and is chaired by the president. The committee makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees, and the president selects and invites honorands from a list of approved nominees.

Submit a Nomination

To submit a nomination for an honorary degree and/or Commencement speaker, complete and submit the nomination form below.

Your Information

First name:

Last name:

Email address:

Your Smith College Affiliation

Current student; class year: 
Faculty member
Staff member
Alumna; class year: 

Your Nomination

Please provide only one name per submission. Note that Smith only awards one honorary degree in a recipient's lifetime. In order to determine if your nominee was a past recipient, please review the list of past Honorary Degree Recipients.


Nomination for:

Commencement speaker
Honorary Degree recipient

Please explain why you believe this individual is qualified:

Does this nominee have a connection to Smith?


Please explain your connection to the nominee, if any, and provide any contact information you have. You may wish to include links to supporting materials, such as a biography, résumé, articles concerning the nominee or other information regarding the nominee’s professional accomplishments.

Click on "Submit nomination" below to submit your nomination.