Office of Ceremonies

Honorary Degrees


July 5, 2016

Mark Pigott, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Mark Pigott

At the 141st University of Washington Commencement Ceremony, on June 11, 2016, the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters was conferred upon Mark Charles Pigott, former CEO and current Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of PACCAR.


June 13, 2015

Christine Gregoire, Honorary Doctor of Laws

Christine Gregoire speaking at 140th UW Commencement

At the 140th University of Washington Commencement Ceremony, on June 13, 2015, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred on the Honorable Christine O. Gregoire, former two-term governor and three-term attorney general of the state of Washington.


June 14, 2014

Steven Ballmer, Honorary Doctor of Science

Steven Ballmer

At the 139th University of Washington Commencement Ceremony, on June 14, 2014, the honorary degree of Doctor of Science was conferred on Steven Anthony Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft.


June 15, 2013

Jon Huntsman Jr., Honorary Doctor of Laws

John Huntsman

At the 138th University of Washington Commencement Ceremony, on June 15, 2013, the honorary degree of Doctor of Science was conferred on Jon Huntsman, Jr, former Ambassador to China and governor of Utah.


June 12, 2010

Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, Honorary Doctor of Arts

Kent Stowell and Francia Russell receive their honorary Doctor of Arts degrees.

At the 135th University of Washington Commencement Ceremony, on June 12, 2010, the honorary degree of Doctor of Arts was conferred on Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, founding artistic directors of Pacific Northwest Ballet.


October 26, 2009

Ban Ki-moon, Honorary Doctor of Laws

Ban Ki-moon receiving his honorary Doctor of Laws degree

At a special University of Washington convocation, held on October 26, 2009, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred on Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.


June 13, 2009

Virginia Beavert, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Virginia Beavert receives her honorary degree

At the 134th University of Washington Commencement Ceremony, on June 13, 2009, the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters was conferred on Yakima Nation tribal elder and linguist, Virginia Beavert.


Robert M. Gates, Honorary Doctor of Laws

Robert M. Gates receives his honorary degree

At the 134th University of Washington Commencement Ceremony, on June 13, 2009, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred on U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.


September 21, 2008

William H. Gates, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

William H. Gates receives his honorary degree

At the 25th Freshman Convocation, on September 21, 2008, the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters was conferred on William H. Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


William H. Gates III, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

William H. Gates III receiving his honorary degree

At the 25th Freshman Convocation, on September 21, 2008, the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters was conferred on William H. Gates III, the founder and chairman of Microsoft Corporation and a co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


June 15, 2008

Greg Mortenson, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Greg Mortenson receives his honorary degree

At the University of Washington Bothell commencement ceremony, held on June 15, 2008, the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters was conferred on Greg Mortenson, renowned humanitarian, author and mountaineer.


June 14, 2008

Quincy Delight Jones, Honorary Doctor of Arts

Quincy Delight Jones receives his honorary degree

At the 133rd University of Washington Commencement Ceremony, held on June 14, 2008, an honorary Doctor of Arts degree was conferred on Quincy Jones, legendary producer, arranger, composer, director and humanitarian.


May 18, 2008

Japanese American students of 1941 & 1942, Honorary Bachelor of Arts

Japanese American students of 1941 & 1942 receive their honorary degrees

On May 18, 2008, honorary Bachelor of Arts degrees were bestowed on 449 Japanese American students who were forced to leave the University in 1942 following an executive order by President Franklin Roosevelt that led to the incarceration of approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans on the west coast. In 1988 Congress passed a resolution which officially apologized for and redressed the injustices suffered by Japanese Americans due to this order. Honorees were presented with mementos containing the Japanese American Students’ Citation for the Honorary Degree, special stoles, and copies of The Fountain and the Mountain, a history, with beautiful photos, of the UW campus.


April 14, 2008

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama receives his honorary degree

An Academic Convocation was held on April 14, 2008 to bestow an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibet and was awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 1989.


June 15, 2006

William D. Ruckelshaus, Honorary Doctor of Laws

William D. Ruckelshaus receives his honorary degree

During the 131st Commencement Ceremony in June of 2006 an honorary Doctor of Laws was bestowed on William D. Ruckelshaus, a two time administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


June 15, 2004

August Wilson, Honorary Doctor of Arts

August Wilson receives his honorary degree

During the 129th Commencement Ceremony in June of 2004 an honorary Doctor of Arts was bestowed on August Wilson, playwright and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.


June 15, 2002

Madeleine Korbel Albright, Honorary Doctor of Laws

Madeleine Albright receiving her honorary degree

During the 127th Commencement Ceremony in June of 2002 an honorary Doctor of Laws was bestowed on Madeleine Korbel Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State.


May 30, 2002

Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Desmond Mpilo Tutu receiving his honorary degree

An Academic Convocation was held in May of 2002 to bestow an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa and 1984 Nobel Peace Prize recipient.


October 4, 2000

Ferdinand Foch

French Marshal Ferdinand Foch

Between 1894 and 2002, the University awarded only one honorary degree. On November 30, 1921, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree was conferred on French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, who was the supreme commander of the Allied armies during the final year of World War I.


Frederic James Grant

Frederic James Grant

In 1894 an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree was conferred upon Frederic James Grant, who was the Editor-in-Chief of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a member of the first Washington State legislature, and an envoy to Bolivia under President Benjamin Harrison.


Rev. William B. Lee

Rev. William B. Lee

In 1888 the UW awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree to Rev. William B. Lee. (Grateful acknowledgement is made to Dr. Robert L. Welsh for his invaluable assistance in locating this photograph).


Rev. John R. Thompson

Rev. John R. Thompson

In 1887 the UW awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree to Rev. John R. Thompson. (Grateful acknowledgement is made to Dr. Robert L. Welsh for his invaluable assistance in locating this photograph).


Rev. D. J. Pierce

Rev. D. J. Pierce

In 1887 the UW awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree to Rev. D. J. Pierce. (Grateful acknowledgement is made to Dr. Robert L. Welsh for his invaluable assistance in locating this photograph).


Orange Jacobs

Orange Jacobs

The first University of Washington honorary degree, a Doctor of Laws, was conferred upon Orange Jacobs by the Territorial University of Washington in 1885.  Mr. Jacobs was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Washington from 1871-1875, a member of the 44th and 45th Congresses (1875-1879), and the mayor of Seattle…