Rod Library--Special Collections

Honorary Degrees at the University of Northern Iowa, 1975-2010

James Hearst receives honorary degree


Universities sometimes choose to award honorary degrees to recognize special achievement, especially among their faculty and alumni.  These degrees are not earned in the everyday sense of accumulating appropriate, organized sequences of classroom credit.  Rather, honorary degrees are a means of citing particular achievement or service, sometimes to the university and sometimes on a broader scale. 

The University of Northern Iowa was late in beginning to award honorary degrees.  Not until 1975, as the university approached its 100th anniversary, did James Schell Hearst receive the first UNI honorary degree.  Since that time the university has chosen to honor a number of people, most of whom have been faculty or alumni of UNI.

Listed below are the recipients of UNI honorary degrees, the degrees that they received, and the date on which they received them.  Follow the linked names to short biographical sketches of the degree recipients.


1975--James Schell Hearst, Doctor of Literature, May 17, 1975

1977--Rutherford David Rogers, Doctor of Literature, May 14, 1977

1979--Herbert Victor Hake, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 19, 1979

1983--Mary Louise Petersen, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 7, 1983

1983--Leland Livingston Sage, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 7, 1983

1985--Allen Walker Read, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 11, 1985

1985--Ronald William Roskens, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 11, 1985

1987--William C. Lang, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 16, 1987

1988--William Thomas Pettit, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 14, 1988

1990--Ralph Gordon Hoxie, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 12, 1990

1991--Mona Van Duyn, Doctor of Literature, May 11, 1991

1995--Gary R. Kelley, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 13, 1995

1997--George Irving Shirley, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 10, 1997

1998--R. Wayne Richey, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 9, 1998

2005--Christine H. B. Grant, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 7, 2005

2005--Rex B. Eno, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 7, 2005

2006--Leroy H. Redfern, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 6, 2006

2008--Sheri Greenawald, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 10, 2008

2008--Nancy Aossey, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 10, 2008

2008--Robert Eugene Yager, Doctor of Humane Letters, December 20, 2008

2010--Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 8, 2010

2010--Mildred Kalish, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 8, 2010

2010--Stephen J. Rapp, Doctor of Literature, May 8, 2010


Compiled by University Archivist Gerald L. Peterson, with research assistance by Intern Dana Wallace and Student Assistants Amy Yates and Kimberly Nurre, January 2010; last updated, November 20, 2013 (GP).


Rod Library Special Collections and University Archives
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613-3675
Telephone: (319)-273-6307
Fax: (319)-273-2913
Email: Gerald.Peterson@uni.edu