IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

Honorary Degrees

The honorary degree granted is the Doctor of Humanities, which is an award that recognizes distinguished accomplishments and scholarship in the arts, humanities, sciences, the professions, and public life, as well as outstanding service to society.


Anyone who is not currently an IAIA administrator, faculty, staff, or member of the Board of Trustees is eligible to be nominated for an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.
Nominees shall be individuals:

  • Who have made outstanding contributions in scholarly or creative areas;
  • Who have acquired a national or international reputation for excellence in a specific field or endeavor; or
  • With a recognized record of distinguished community or public service.


Any member of the IAIA community (alumni, administrators, faculty members, staff and students), department, or program may nominate someone for the honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree through submission of the appropriate materials to the President. Nominations must include a cover letter that includes the following:

  • Name of the person nominated;
  • Biographical sketch and CV of the nominee; and
  • Description of the exceptional accomplishments and contribution(s) of the nominee.

Honorary Degree Committee Membership and Review Procedures

Each year, or as required by receipt of a nomination, the President of IAIA will establish an ad hoc Honorary Degree Committee consisting of the following:

  • Academic Dean
  • Two Faculty members
  • Associated Student Government Representative
  • President
  • Chairperson, Board of Trustees who will chair the committee
  • Board of Trustees member

The committee will review nominations and the records of individuals to be considered for the honorary doctorate degree. The committee shall determine its meeting schedule and the process it will use for review and decision-making. If necessary, the committee could request more detailed information and other supporting materials from the nominator.

If the committee makes a positive determination, it shall submit a recommendation to the Board of Trustees. The recommendation will include the following information:

  • Name and biographical sketch of the proposed award recipient(s);
  • Justification for awarding the degree; and
  • A proposed date and place of award.

The award must be accepted by the nominee and awarded within two years of receiving a favorable response from the Honorary Degree Committee and the Board of Trustees.

Award Ceremony

Normally, no more than two honorary degrees will be awarded in a calendar year. The honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree will usually be awarded at the spring commencement ceremony.