October 21, 2010

Honorary degree, service award nominations open

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is soliciting nominations for honorary degrees and distinguished service awards that will be presented during May 2011 commencement ceremonies.

The SIUC Honorary Degree and Service Award Committee is accepting nominations in both categories. Honorary degrees “should be reserved for outstanding scholarly contribution or for persons of considerable renown in any field of activity,” according to committee operating papers. If the honorary degree is for anything other than scholarly contribution, the award should be for recipients “who have uniquely contributed to human well being or whose accomplishments have resulted in a marked benefit to society.”

The SIUC Distinguished Service Award is reserved for people who “contributed importantly to Southern Illinois, to the nation, to the world, to the state, and/or to the University.” Current and former University employees are eligible except in the year they retire.

Nominations for both honorary degrees and distinguished service awards are due no later than Monday, Nov. 8. The 17-member committee, chaired by Sajal Lahiri, a professor in the Department of Economics, will make its recommendations no later than Dec. 3. The SIU Board of Trustees will approve award recipients at its February 2011 meeting.

Honorary degree and distinguished service awards require approval from the committee, SIUC chancellor, University presidential endorsement, and the SIU Board of Trustees

Nomination letters should include a two- to three-page resume, curriculum vita, or biographical sketch that includes a description of the nominee’s “unique contributions.” The committee may then also request additional materials to assist in its consideration. Nominators should consult with Lahiri “to ensure that consistent standards of confidentiality and propriety are followed.”

Since 1950, the University has awarded 112 honorary degrees to individuals in a variety of fields, including science, government, social work, the law, arts, and entertainment.

Previous award recipients include former governors William G. Stratton and Otto Kerner; former SIUC professor R. Buckminster Fuller; actor and humanitarian Eddie Albert; co-founder and CEO of C-SPAN Brian P. Lamb; former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon; Jeanne Hurley Simon; comedian, author, activist and former SIUC cross country and track standout Dick Gregory; Judge Abner J. Mikva; and Minnijean Brown Trickey, a former SIUC student, and member of the "Little Rock Nine,” who with eight other African-American students attempted to desegregate Little Rock Central High School in the late 1950s.

Since 1975, the University has awarded 50 Distinguished Service Awards. Previous recipients include SIU School of Law founder Hiram H. Lesar; trailblazing journalist and philanthropist Virginia Marmaduke; Marianne Webb, Distinguished University Organist and visiting professor of music; and longtime University supporter Barbara Lesar.

Direct inquires to Lahiri at 618/536-7746 or by email at lahiri@siu.edu. Send nominations to “Chair of the Committee,” Sajal Lahiri, Faner Hall, Room 4131, Mailcode 4515, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901.