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Now that our 2016 Commencement Exercises are completed, we are beginning the process of planning for next year’s ceremonies. I would like to ask for your help in nominating deserving candidates for honorary degrees for the 2017 Commencement. I have listed the general guidelines below for your information. Please provide background information on your nominees to help the Board of Trustees with the selection process.

Honorary degrees are intended to recognize people who have made significant contributions to society and whom Canisius College wishes to incorporate as members of the Canisius academic family. The following criteria have been adopted by the Board of Trustees:

  1. The honorary degrees awarded are usually a Doctor of Humane Letters or a Doctor of Laws.
  2. Such awards are made for special distinguished achievement in the arts, sciences, professions, business, commerce, education, and other significant fields of human endeavor. We are open to international, national and local nominees.
  3. The achievements recognized should generally be such as to improve human society and inspire others to work towards similar achievements.
  4. Individuals so honored should be of good moral character, who will reflect credit upon Canisius College, as a Catholic and Jesuit institution.
  5. It is customary to award approximately three or four honorary degrees each year, including the commencement speakers.
  6. Insofar as possible, the slate of awardees each year should reflect a balance among different fields of endeavor and the various segments of American society, including gender.
  7. These criteria are meant to be guidelines and suggestions rather than binding criteria. It remains in the power of the Trustees of Canisius College to award honorary degrees according to their best judgment. Final approval of all academic degrees, both earned and honorary, rests with the Board of Trustees.

We also would like to receive nominations for the 2017 commencement speakers for the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies. The following guidelines apply to the commencement speakers:

  1. If possible, the speaker should have some connection with Canisius College, higher education or the local Western New York community.
  2. The speaker should be a competent public speaker.
  3. The speaker will not be a candidate for public office in the year in which the commencement takes place.
  4. All other things being equal, preference will be given to graduates of Canisius College who have distinguished themselves in their career and have been a credit to alma mater.

Suggestions for the above candidates should be submitted in writing to the President’s office by August 1, 2016 by emailing Erica Sammarco, associate vice president, assistant to the president, at

Please note, if you submitted a nomination in a prior year, but that person has not yet been selected, their name remains on a master list of candidates and will be considered by the Board in the next cycle.

Many thanks for your time and consideration.

Submitted by: Laura A. Montaro, executive associate, Office of the President