Honorary Degree & Commencement Speaker

An honorary degree is F&M’s highest honor presented to those who represent the F&M mission through qualities of intellect, creativity, and character. One such individual is chosen annually to serve as the commencement speaker.


The Selection Process

A Committee on Honorary Degrees invites the F&M community to submit nominations year-round by completing the Honorary Degree & Commencement Speaker form. This committee is comprised of faculty, administrative staff, and students to advise the F&M President on a slate of honorary degree nominations, including the Commencement speaker, for final approval by the Board of Trustees. The nomination and recommendation process shall remain confidential until the invitation is made by the President of the College and is accepted by the recipient. Honorary degrees are typically not awarded in absentia and posthumously. F&M does not provide an honoraria with an honorary degree.

Nomination Requirements

Candidates are to represent the College's mission and foremost ideals and values. In keeping with our values of community, innovation, excellence, leadership, service, loyalty, philanthropy, and tradition, the College grants honorary degrees to recognize transformational leadership or distinctive accomplishment in the following areas:

  • the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities
  • the creative and performing arts
  • the professions, including education
  • service to humanity of national or international significance

Candidates for Commencement Speaker shall be persons of distinction and observe characteristics that the College deems admirable and worthy of emulation, representing a presence that is intended to provide instruction and inspiration to students.

The committee seeks year-round nominations from the F&M Community. All nominations may be considered for a period of up to five years. All nominations must include contextual information for each nominee and only completed form nominations will be fully considered by the committee. In keeping with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania code on honorary degree restrictions members of the F&M faculty, faculty emeriti, administrative officers and staff, nor members of the Board of Trustees may be considered for an honorary degree.

Submit a nomination

Viet Thanh Nguyen, Commencement Speaker 2022

Viet Thanh Nguyen, speaker for Commencement 2022.


Honorary Degree Recipients

Discover the history of honorary degree recipients at F&M.
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Awards & Citations

Franklin & Marshall College honors faculty, trustees, and administrative staff through separate awards and citations.

Annual faculty awards presented at the Commencement Ceremony include the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award, the Bradley R. Dewey Scholarship Award, and the F&M Distinguished Faculty Service Award.

The Richard Kneedler Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to a professional staff member.

The Williamson Medal is the highest honor bestowed on a student and is presented annually to an outstanding member of the graduating class.



Research Services Specialist Jenn Buch, the 2022-2023 Richard Kneedler Distinguished Service Award recipient, with F&M President Barbara K. Altmann.

Research Services Specialist Jenn Buch, the 2022-2023 Richard Kneedler Distinguished Service Award recipient, with F&M President Barbara K. Altmann.