Instructions for Honorary Degree Nominations for 2020

By awarding honorary degrees, the University of Toronto seeks to recognize extraordinary achievement in Canada or abroad; and in community, national, or international involvement. Individuals are honoured whose accomplishments are of such excellence that they provide, through example, inspiration and leadership to the graduates of the University. Their esteem should be such that, by virtue of accepting an honorary degree, their presence will bring honour and distinction to the University of Toronto.

The Committee for Honorary Degrees defines as broad a range of categories for achievement as possible in obtaining and considering nominations. In determining the leaders and exemplars to honour, it will seek over time to achieve a balance across disciplines and backgrounds. The Committee also considers the association nominees may have with the University of Toronto or with higher education more generally.

The Committee attempts, through its recommendation of nominees, to reflect the national character of Canada, the desirable features of its regional and cultural diversity, and the character and diversity of the University itself. As such, it is necessary for the Committee to have a diverse pool of candidates so that it may consider diversity in all of its dimensions.

Canadians and non-Canadians are considered. It is a requirement that an honorary degree recipient attend a Convocation ceremony for conferral of the degree. For two categories of nominees, the conferral of honorary degrees will not normally occur until a minimum of two years has elapsed following their retirement from active service in their field. Consequently, nominations should not be submitted until at least one year has elapsed.

First are nominees who are currently active in political life, though exceptions may be considered for Governors-General and Lieutenant-Governors, as well as for judges and others whose appointments place them outside active partisan politics. The second category includes nominees who are current members of the Governing Council or University staff. Honorary degrees should not be conferred on such individuals until a minimum of two years following their retirement or departure from the University. In exceptional circumstances, the Committee may choose to waive these requirements in order to allow the University to honour truly meritorious individuals.

Nominations should be submitted by Friday, September 13, 2019, no later than 5:00 p.m.

Please submit a completed nomination form and any supplementary material (e.g. c.v. and optional letters of support) to Dr. Kristi Gourlay, Secretary, Committee for Honorary Degrees, by email (

Each nomination should have a lead nominator. However, additional nominators are welcome. The lead nominator has the responsibility for ensuring that the form is completed as fully as possible, and that all relevant supplementary information is included. The lead nominator will also serve as the main point of contact for the nomination and should be able to provide additional information about the nominee as requested.

The lead nominator will be notified of the outcome of the submission following the Governing Council meeting on Thursday, February 27, 2020.

Thank you.