In writing citation copy, you need to craft it so it can be read easily out
loud at the ceremony; try it out that way. Then, keep in mind that the award
will hang on the recipient’s wall; you want the text to fill him or her
with pride. Ask yourself: how would the award recipient want to be remembered
for his/her accomplishments?
Finally, remember that the guidelines state
“honorary degrees/outstanding achievement awards are not awarded to
encourage or reward contributions to the University.” This individual is
being honored because of achievements in a profession and/or contributions to
bettering the community at large. The University provides the Alumni Service
Award or the Regents Award to honor those who have made specific volunteer or
monetary contributions to the University, and this recipient may also receive
either of those awards.
The OAA emphasizes the candidate’s broader
contributions in the world at large.
The OAA citation preprint space allows approximately 65-77 words.
layout determines length, so the editors will work to make your words fit and to
achieve an aesthetically pleasing citation layout.)
The first phrase
(one line) is always: “Distinguished graduate
of the University of Minnesota” (unless they didn’t get a degree, in
which case, use “Distinguished alumnus or alumna of the University of
Minnesota.”) This line does not include collegiate designation.
(one or two lines) should state current position,
affiliation, or title, in the recipient’s institution or company, etc. (or
most recent, if retired).
The third, fourth, and usually fifth
are devoted to accomplishments, contributions to his or her
field—academic or business—and impact on the world or the
individual’s particular communities.
formatEach phrase on the citation generally begins with an adjective
and then goes on to declare how the individual is outstanding.
(Examples: Innovative scientist, who..., whose work...; or Visionary executive,
who... , whose leadership..., or Dedicate community volunteer, who led... or
whose...) The final phrase generally points to the person’s long-lasting
(Adapted from the information we give University Relations
- Read the main nominating statement. It generally sums up what is in the
accompanying letters. Pick out pithy quotes that distinguish this recipient as
an exemplary individual.
(Note especially the adjectives and nouns you will
be able to use in the format.)
- Skim the letters of recommendation. Again, pick out pithy quotes and
descriptive words and phrases.
- Now, fit these to the format described above. You may need to generalize
because there’s not all that much space on the citation. It may feel
tricky to reach a healthy balance between selecting specific detailed
accomplishments, missing many, and generalizing so much that you could be
describing anyone. But, remember that you or someone from your department will
be scripting the ceremony and will be able to add so much more detail at that
As much as possible, use the words or ideas that the writers
of letters of recommendation have used in their statements. Choose the
emotional, the superlatives with meat, the hard-hitting words whenever possible.
These are especially appropriate in the concluding phrase.The typical
phrase construction will read:
Dedicated philanthropist, who has
generously supported education and ...
Entrepreneurial scientist, whose
practical approach to science built a whole industry...
humanitarian whose life has been dedicated to the pursuit of
Accomplished scientist who has earned national distinction
National leader in computer education, who has served as a role
Tireless advocate of children’s causes who has had a towering
Visionary physicist whose innovative approach to research
problems led to...Once in awhile, for variety, you may shift to a noun
—Scholar of extraordinary insight, who
—A major force in... —Builder
—World leader in... —Pioneer in...Or,
add a second noun, such as:
Dedicated volunteer and philanthropist, who
has given generously of his time, expertise, and financial resources to make a
difference in the lives of individuals and the quality of life in his
SAMPLE OAA CITATIONS can be found at:
Tips for preparing the Honorary Degree
The honorary degree citation is a bit more complicated than an
Outstanding Achievement Award citation.
The best way you can help in
preparing the nomination materials so that the citation will be easily written
for the final format is to be sure that the following is included:
- C.V. or a chronological biography is extremely helpful.
- Letters or nomination summary use colorful
University Relations writers will handle these
citations, but we have included a description of the format and instruction
below, which helps UR writers to ensure uniformity from citation to
citation.The honorary degree citation has a standard format.
There are two paragraphs:
The first paragraph
forward. It always begins with the individual’s origin (native of______),
then lists educational degrees, key career or leadership positions, and
sometimes awards. List the positions in chronological order. You may not be able
to include everything. List only extremely prestigious awards after
The second paragraph
is devoted to the
individual’s major achievements and accomplishments and the impact of his
or her work and life. The language in this paragraph can be flowery and phrases
are derived from the accolades found in the nominating letters.
begins with “because....”
The “because” statements
lead up to “the regents of the University of Minnesota
Include local, national, and global activities. The last
sentence either ends with a powerful statement or sums up the recipient’s
accomplishments. This is where you should put the most emphasis on his or her
greatest global impact.
Approx. number of words: 200
CITATIONS FOR THE HONORARY DEGREE CAN BE FOUND AT: