Honorary degrees have been a tradition in North American higher education for three hundred years. Harvard bestowed its first honorary degree on Increase Mather, the Puritan clergyman, in 1692. The University of Alberta bestowed its initial honorary degrees at its first Convocation in 1908 when the (then) Lieutenant Governor, Premier and Chief Justice were granted Honorary Doctorates.
The complete listing of honorary degrees granted is published in the annual academic calendar.
In 1987, Chancellor Tevie Miller worked with the librarians at the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library to begin celebrating Honorary Degree Recipients with a rare book that is specially selected to honour recipients' interests and accomplishments. The Senate Library Endowment Fund allows for the purchasing of these books. These gifts have greatly enhanced the library's research collections and they are some of the most frequently requested items in the Special Collections.
To learn more about selections that have been made for our Honorary Degree Recipients, since 1987, please visit the library's online exhibit of these rare books.