Honorary Degree Recipients

The University of Chicago traditionally confers the honorary doctor of divinity, doctor of humane letters, doctor of laws, doctor of music, and doctor of science degrees.

The University’s approach to awarding honorary degrees, however, is unique in that the University does not honor actors, ambassadors, presidents or monarchs unless they meet stringent requirements for scholarship. The University traditionally awards honorary degrees to individuals who have made significant contributions to their fields of study or in service to the University, in the case of those who have served as presidents of the University or chairmen of the Board of Trustees.

University faculty nominate candidates at the level of degree-granting units. Departmental honorary degree committees collect letters of recommendation from outside scholars as well as complete bibliographies of the candidates. They make their recommendations to the divisional committees, which then make their recommendations to the deans.

Randall Kennedy

Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School

Randall Kennedy was born in Columbia, South Carolina.  He attended St. Albans School, Princeton University, Balliol College, Oxford University, and Yale Law School.  He served as a law clerk to United States Court of Appeals Judge J. Skelly Wright and United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.  The Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Kennedy is a member of the bars of the District of Columbia and the Federal Supreme Court, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Law Institute, and a member of the American Philosophical Society.  The author of seven books, Kennedy is a trustee emeritus of Princeton University.                      

Bernd Sturmfels

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences

Bernd Sturmfels received doctoral degrees in 1987 from the University of Washington and the Technical University Darmstadt, and honorary doctorates from the universities of Frankfurt (2015) and Bern (2023). After postdoctoral years in Minneapolis and Linz, he taught at Cornell University, before joining UC Berkeley in 1995, where he served as Professor of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science. Since 2017 he is a director at the Max-Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, Leipzig. In 2018 he became Honarary Professor at Technical University Berlin and University of Leipzig. His awards include a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship, a Humboldt Senior Research Prize, the SIAM von Neumann Lecturership, the Sarlo Distinguished Mentoring Award, and the George David Birkhoff Prize in Applied Mathematics. He is a fellow of the AMS and SIAM, and a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. In 2022 he spoke at the International Congress of Mathematicians. Sturmfels mentored 65 doctoral students and countless postdocs, and he authored 12 books and 310 research articles, in combinatorics, commutative algebra, algebraic geometry, and their applications to fields like statistics, optimization, computational biology, and fundamental physics.

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