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Honorary Degrees: Home

Written by Jaime Bradley and Heather Dent

Honorary Degrees

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an Honorary Degree is "conferred by a university or college as a recognition of distinction or a tribute of honour." Berea College has a long and distinguished history of conferring honorary degrees based on clear, objective, scholarship-centered, service-oriented and mission-based selection criteria. In the mid-1990s, official nomination and awarding criteria was adopted by the Faculty.

Berea College began awarding honorary degrees in 1881*. Since then, the College has granted 247 honorary degrees*: 201 to men, 46 to women (as of 2011, see listings below). The College does not grant an honorary degree every year.

List of Honorary Degree Recipients

Note: Many of the early A.M. and M.S. degrees awarded prior to 1914 to Berea alumni were actually "earned" degrees (between 1881 and 1914, Berea College informally granted advanced degrees at the Masters level). Although informal and not accredited, these degrees were in some cases recognizing actual scholarship or service performed, not purely honorary. Some may have been awarded in order to allow the honoree to receive an honorary doctorate at a time in the future (this appears with the granting of honorary doctorates to pre-1904 African-American and white alumni, as well as early Berea teachers - perhaps a Berea form of ad eundem degrees). These degrees, however, were not included on early historical lists of honorary degrees and are thus marked by an asterisk.* According to those early, contemporary lists, the first true honorary degree was awarded in 1893.

Name of Honoree Berea Degree Held and Year; other
connections with Berea College
  Type of Honorary Degree
Rogers, W.M.N.* A.B. 1877   A.M.
1882 - None Awarded
Fairchild, Arthur B.* A.B. 1874   A.M.
Jackson, John Henry* A.B. 1874   A.M.
Lester, Jennie E.* A.B. 1879   A.M.
Rice, John Hale Julian* A.B. 1879   A.M.
1884-1886 - None Awarded
Dodge, Prescott Daniel* A.B. 1879   A.M.
1888 - None Awarded
Baker, Wm. H.* A.B. 1885   A.M.
Barton, Wm. E.* B.S. 1885   M.S.
McCollum, James L.* A.B. 1883   A.M.
Hathaway James S.* A.B. 1884   A.M.
McCollum, Hugh Burritt* A.B. 1883   A.M.
1892 - None Awarded
Barton, Wm. E. B.S. 1885; M.S. 1889   A.M.
Gilbert, Miss Kate N/A; Teacher 1870-1898   A.M.
Todd, Rev. A. E. (Alvin Ethelstan) N/A; Professor, Librarian, VP, 1891-1898   A.M.
Barton, Wm. E. B.S. 1885; M.S. 1889; A.M. 1893   D.D.
Mayo, Rev. A. D. N/A; Lecturer 1893-1907   LL.D.
Bate, John W.* A.B. 1881   A.M.
Davenport, Rev. James B. N/A   A.M.
Weld, Rev. Charles Richmond N/A   LL.D.
Burleigh, Angus A.* A.B. 1875   A.M.
Bond, James* B.S. 1892   M.S.
Dodge, Ernest Green* A.B. 1893   A.M.
Drew, Wm. James* B.S. 1892   M.S.
McCollum, Geo T.* B.S. 1890   M.S.
Rogers, John Raphael* A.B. 1875   A.M.
Rogers, Joseph Morgan* A.B. 1879   A.M.
Beardslee, Prof. Clark Smith N/A   D.D.
Greenough, Prof. J. C. N/A   LL.D.
1899 - None Awarded
Hubbard, Rev. Wm. Henry N/A   D.D.
Bond, James B.S. 1892; M.S. 1897   D.D.
Rogers, Rev. J. A. R. N/A; Founder/Trustee, 1858-1906   D.D.
Baker, James Thompson* B.L. 1897   Ph.M.
Brodie, Rev. Andrew M. N/A   D.D.
Dinsmore, Prof. John Wirt N/A   A.M.
Hunting, Mrs. Julia Scott N/A   A.M.
Putnam, Mrs. Kate Urner N/A   A.M.
Robinson, Josephine A. (Mrs. E. D. Roe) N/A   A.M.
Burnam, Hon. Curtis F. N/A   LL.D.
Van Horn, Rev. Francis J. N/A   D.D.
Lewis, John C.* B.S. 1886   M.S.
Williams, Frank L.* A.B. 1889   A.M.
Miller, Fannie B.* A.B. 1888   A.M.
1905 - None Awarded
Fuller, Rev. Nathan G. N/A   D.D.
Thompson, Rev. A. E. N/A   D.D.
Curtis, Theodore H. N/A   A.M.
Marsh, Prof. Miles E. N/A; Professor of   A.M.
Schumaker, Miss Viola N/A   A.M.
Battle, Wallace Aaron* A.B. 1901   A.M.
Smith, Edwin B.* A.B. 1881   A.M.
White, Edward F.* A.B. 1881   A.M.
McCollum, Rev. George N/A   D.D.
Willson, Hon. Augustus E. N/A   LL.D
Baker, C. Milton* B.S. 1891   M.S.
Crenshaw, Joshua* A.B. 1892   A.M.
Dodds, Joseph J.* Ph.B. 1894   M.S.
Gould, Chas. W.* A.B. 1897   A.M.
Hill, Noble* Ph.B. 1893   M.S.
Humphrey, Wm. H.* A.B. 1903   A.M.
Lamson, Mary H. (Mrs. Dodge)* B.S. 1887   M.S.
Matheny, Francis Edmund* B.L. 1898; Ph.B. 1900   M.S.
Menzi, Ernest U.* Ph.B. 1893   A.M.
Sayers, Lena P.* B.S. 1890   M.S.
Todson, Clara Leona* B.L. 1901   M.S.
Crabble, John Grant N/A   LL.D.
Jones, Rev. Howard Murray N/A   D.D.
McKee, Alice Doty* Ph.B. 1903   M.S.
Johnson, Rev. Herbert S. N/A   D.D.
Wilder, Herbert A. N/A   A.M.
Raine, Rev. James Watt N/A; Professor, 1906-1944   D.D.
Roberts, Rev. Benson H. N/A   D.D.
1913 - None Awarded
Dodge, Prescott Daniel A.B. 1879; A.M. 1887   D.D.
Raymond, C. Rexford N/A   D.D.
Lindsley, Chas. Bradley* B.S. 1911   M.S.
1915-1916 - None Awarded
Lyman, Elmer A. N/A   LL.D.
Candee, George N/A; Trustee 1858-1879   M.A.
Fee, Edwin S. N/A; son of John G. Fee, student 1870-1882   M.A.
McKeever, Wm. A. N/A   LL.D.
Rogers, John Raphael A.B. 1875; A.M. 1897   LL.D.
Sewell, Nathaniel Burton N/A   A.M.
Sewell, Mrs. Nathaniel B. N/A   A.M.
Bowersox, Miss Katherine S. N/A; Dean of Women, Instructor in Normal
Department, 1907-
Ernberg, Mrs. Anna M. N/A; Director of Fireside Industries, 1911-   A.M.
Mead, George W. N/A   D.D.
Ridgeway, Mrs. Florence N/A; Librarian, 1909-   A.M.
Smith, Anna L. N/A; President's Secretary, 1907-1909; 1911-1914   A.M.
Knight, Charles Spurgeon N/A; Extension, 1912-1914   D.D.
Boatright, Virginia Russel N/A; Teacher, 1905-   B.Ped.
Wilson, Warren H. N/A   LL.D.
1921-1923 - None Awarded
Stockdale, Allen Arther N/A   D.D.
Jillson, Willard Rouse> N/A   Sc.D.
Campbell, Olive D. N/A   L.H.D.
Karnosh, Louis Joseph N/A   Sc.D.
McCormack, Arthur T. N/A   Sc.D.
Alexander, Will Winton N/A   D.D.
White, Edward Franklin N/A   LL.D.
Hill, Noble Ph.B. 1893; M.S. 1908   Litt.D.
Jones, Thomas Elsa N/A   LL.D.
McClure, James G. K. Jr. N/A   Sc.D.
Allen, Florence E. N/A   LL.D.
Southwick, Henry L. N/A   Litt.D.
Hutchins, Robert M. N/A; son of William J. Hutchins, Berea's 4th President   LL.D.
>Grenfell, Sir Wilfred T. N/A   LL.D.
Battle, Wallace Aaron A.B. 1901; A.M. 1907   Litt.D.
Embree, William Dean B.L. 1899   LL.D.
Luccock, George N. N/A   D.D.
McVey, Frank L. N/A   LL.D.
Ickes, Harold L. N/A   LL.D.
1935 - None Awarded
Washburn, Hezekiah N/A   D.D.
1937-1940 - None Awarded
Goldthwait, Joel E. N/A   Sc.D.
Huntington, Seth R. N/A   D.D.
1942-1943 - None Awarded
Baird, Jesse B.S. 1915   LL.D.
Frost, Eleanor Marsh N/A; wife of Wm. G. Frost, Berea's 3rd President   LL.D.
1946 - None Awarded
Breckenridge, Mary N/A   LL.D.
Cowley, Robert H. N/A; Berea Physician   Sc.D.
Donavon, Herman L. N/A   LL.D.
Boggs, Samuel Whittemore B.L. 1909; Assistant to President, 1909-   Sc.D.
Danforth, William H. N/A   LL.D.
Hutchins, William J. N/A   LL.D.
Bowersox, Katherine A.M. 1919; Dean of Women, Instructor in
Normal Department, 1907-
Welsh, Mary N/A; Dean of Women,   L.H.D.
Johnson, W. Monte N/A   D.D.
Seabury, Charles Ward N/A; Donor and namesake of Men's
Gymnasium built in 1927
Cooper Thomas P. N/A   Sc.D.
Phillips, Ralph N/A   Sc.D.
Pierrepont, Seth Low N/A   LL.D.
Meese, Alfred H. A.B. 1909   LL.D.
Bannerman, Arthur M. N/A   LL.D.
Hoffman, Rolla E. B.S. 1908   Sc.D.
Cable, Raymond Millard N/A   Sc.D.
Cho, Chung Whan N/A   LL.D.
Eaton, Allen H. N/A   L.H.D.
Kress, Rush H. N/A   LL.D.
Mays, Benjamin Elijah N/A   D.D.
Tago, Masako Suda N/A   LL.D.
Weatherford, Willis Duke N/A; Trustee, 19   LL.D.
1956 - None Awarded
Dickey, Frank Graves N/A   LL.D.
Green, Paul Eliot N/A   Litt.D.
Orwig, Preston G. N/A   L.H.D.
Cooper, John Sherman N/A   LL.D.
Faust, Clarence Henry N/A   L.H.D.
Combs, Louise N/A   L.H.D.
Welch, Frank J. N/A   LL.D.
Cooper, Edward B. N/A   Sc.D.
Cowan, Thomas B. N/A   D.D.
Peck, Elizabeth S. N/A; Professor of History, 19   Litt.D.
Brown, Kenneth I. N/A   L.H.D.
Ford, H. Church N/A   LL.D.
Ethridge, Mark N/A   L.H.D.
Combs, Bert Thomas N/A   L.H.D.
Rhind, Flora McDonald N/A   LL.D.
Parks, William Robert N/A   LL.D.
Stuart, Jesse N/A   Litt.D.
Hutchins, Louise N/A; Doctor, Mountain Material Health League   Sc.D.
Hutchins, Francis S. N/A; 5th President of Berea College   L.H.D.
Bishop, Charles Edwin N/A   LL.D.
Turpin, James N/A   Sc.D.
Wood, Thomas Jackson N/A   LL.D.
Brooks, Chandler McCluskey N/A   Sc.D.
Smith, Louis N/A; Dean of the College, 1944-1969   LL.D.
Taylor, Joseph T. N/A   LL.D.
Anderson, Walter E. N/A   D.Mus.
Denbo, Bruce F. N/A   Litt.D.
Martin, Galen A. N/A   LL.D.
Caudhill, Harry M. N/A   LL.D.
Ensminger, Douglas N/A   LL.D.
Wesley, Charles H. N/A   L.H.D.
Perkins, Carl Dewey N/A; many Berea students benefit from the
federal Perkins Loan program!
Todd, Russell Irvine N/A   Sc.D.
Bontemps, Arna Wendell N/A   Litt.D.
McCracken, Paul Winston N/A   LL.D.
Still, James N/A   Litt.D.
Lockwood, Normand N/A   D.Mus.
Muelder, Walter N/A; Professor of Religion and Philosophy,   Litt.D.
Allen, Doris T. N/A   Litt.D.
Hamner, Earl N/A   LittD.
Bingham, Barry N/A; Trustee   Litt.D.
Turner, Arlin N/A   Litt.D.
King, Martin Luther, Sr. N/A   D.D.
Robertson, D. B. N/A   J.D.
Williams, Cratis D. N/A   D.H.L.
Albright, Arnold Dewald N/A   L.H.D.
Warren, Robert Penn N/A   L.H.D
Musser, Tharon B.A. 1946; Donor and namesake for theatre   L.H.D.
Kreps, Juanita M. B.A. 1942   LL.D.
Coles, Robert M. N/A   L.H.D.
Reese, Jack E. N/A   LL.D.
Bomhard, Hans Claus Moritz von N/A   D.Mus.
Beiting, Ralph W. N/A   D.D.
Miller, Jim Wayne N/A   Litt. D.
Ross, W. Gordon N/A; Professor of Religion   L.H.D.
Spragens, Thomas A. N/A   LL.D.
Berry, Wendell N/A   Litt.D.
Duncan, Todd N/A   L.H.D.
Hurst, George Samuel N/A   Sc.D.
Weatherford, Anne N/A; wife of W.D. Weatherford, Jr.   L.H.D.
Weatherford, Willis D. Jr. N/A; 6th President of Berea College   L.H.D.
Prichard, Edward F. Jr. N/A   L.H.D.
Height, Dorothy I. N/A   L.H.D.
Ehle, John Mardsen Jr. N/A   L.H.D.
Auxier, John A. N/A   Sc.D.
Cheaney, Henry E. N/A   L.H.D.
Baker, Houston A. N/A   Litt.D.
Corns, Ray N/A   LL.D.
Franklin, John Hope N/A   L.H.D.
Sexton, Robert N/A   L.H.D.
Heilbrun, Carolyn G. N/A   Litt.D.
Ritchie, Jean N/A   Doctor of Arts
Blake, Robert N/A   L.H.D.
Brown, James Stephen N/A   L.H.D.
Cole, Johnetta B. N/A   L.H.D.
Tenzin, Gyastov N/A   L.H.D.
Fleming, Juanita W. N/A   Doctor of Public Service
Gould, Stephen Jay N/A   Sc.D.
Kim, Thomas K. B.A. 1952   L.H.D.
Stephenson, John B. N/A; 7th President of Berea College   L.H.D.
Stephenson, Jane B. N/A; founder of New Opportunity School in Berea   L.H.D.
Egerton, John N/A   L.H.D.
Lamb, Brian N/A   L.H.D.
Gray, William H. N/A   L.H.D.
1998-2000 - None Awarded
Edelman, Marian Wright N/A   L.H.D.
Sanders, Scott Russell N/A   L.H.D.
Sell, Sarah Hamilton Wood N/A   Sc.D.
Dees, Morris Seligman N/A   L.H.D.
Colvard, Dean Wallace N/A   L.H.D.
Crowe, Charles D. N/A   L.H.D.
Whitehead, John C. N/A   LL.D.
O’Reilly, Mary Rose N/A   L.H.D.
Smith, Albert N/A   L.H.D.
Bond, Horace Julian N/A   LL.D.
Wheeler, Billy Edd N/A   L.H.D.
Hall, Eula N/A   L.H.D.
Tutu, Desmond N/A   L.H.D.
Russell, Liane B. N/A   Sc.D.
Hooks, Benjamin Lawson N/A; grandson of alum Julia Britton Hooks, Cx 1874   LL.D.
Powell, James Lawrence N/A   Sc.D.
Fairfax, Jean E. N/A   L.H.D.
Gates, Henry Louis N/A   L.H.D.
Hamilton, Joseph H. N/A   L.H.D.
Carson, Ben N/A   L.H.D.
Bright, Stephen N/A   L.H.D.
Tatum, Beverly Daniel N/A   L.H.D.
Rosenberg, John N/A   L.H.D.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony N/A   L.H.D.
Eck, Diana L. N/A   L.H.D.
Lewis, Helen Matthews N/A; Interim Director of App Center, 1993-1995   L.H.D.
Gurney Norman N/A   L.H.D
Burt Lauderdale N/A   L.H.D
Parker J. Palmer N/A   L.H.D
Peter O'Connor N/A   LL.D
Naomi Judd N/A   Sc.D.
Rep. John Lewis N/A   LL.D.
Dr. Earl Lewis N/A   L.H.D.
George Ella Lyon N/A   L.H.D

A Brief History of Honorary Degrees in the United States

The practice of awarding honorary degrees began in 1692 at Harvard University.

The practice of awarding honorary degrees has long been a controversial matter. Some attach a great deal of significance to the awarding of honorary degrees. Others see it merely as a minor function of the college or university. Still others go so far as to consider it as a device of exploitation whereby the college or university expects to gain prestige or property through recognizing people whose support might be useful.

The United State’s past concerning the practice of granting honorary degrees has been rather messy. Individuals have asked for honorary degrees and received them without undergoing the proper judicious process of selection. Others have strongly protested the granting of certain awards. Perhaps the most famous example of this occurred in 1833 when the president of Harvard informed John Quincy Adams, a member on the Board of Trustees at Harvard, that Andrew Jackson was to be awarded an honorary doctorate of laws. Upon hearing this John Quincy Adams wrote in his diary, “as an affectionate child of our Alma Mater, I would not be present to witness her disgrace in conferring her highest literary honors upon a barbarian who could not write a sentence of grammar and could hardly spell his own name.”

Many sought honorary degrees for their own personal gain. During the pre-Civil War says members of the Protestant clergy were distinctly a predominant group seeking and receiving honorary degrees. A writer in 1857 commented on this saying, “…one of the most prominent objects of their lives must be the gaining by any means, and seemingly from any institution, the dearly coveted Doctor of Divinity.”

Colleges and universities were also guilty of seeking personal gain through the process of awarding honorary degrees. Awarding honorary degrees help educational institutions greatly with publicity. It helps attract new students, raise money, and stimulates reciprocation.
Because of these reasons some colleges and universities are guilty of granting multiple honorary degrees solely to receive more publicity. Some made up creative new titles for honorary degrees. In 1939 a seeing-eye German Shepherd was granted the degree Doctor of Canine Fidelity by a New Jersey institution. Such abuse of the practice of awarding honorary degrees was not to be tolerated within Berea College. Berea constructed an effective set of rules and guidelines to be followed during the selection process in order to avoid any unjust exploitation.