Nomination Process for Honors and Prizes

The Process

The Office of the Secretary solicits nominations from the University community (faculty, administrators, University Senate members, and alumni) via email in September and February. Requests for nominations are also published in the Columbia University Spectator throughout the year.

The Office of the Secretary also solicits nominations directly from the University’s academic and administrative leadership, i.e., the Provost, deans of the various schools, Executive Vice Presidents, department chairs, and distinguished faculty.

Nominations are received by the Office of the Secretary and the University Senate during the course of the academic year in the following categories:

The Arts

  • Architecture
  • Communications
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Film
  • Journalism
  • Music
  • Painting and Sculpture
  • Urban Planning
  • Writing

The Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Anthropology
  • Archeology
  • Art History
  • Business Theory
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • History
  • International Relations
  • Languages and Literature
  • Law and Legal History
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Religion
  • Sociology
  • Teaching

The Natural, Applied, and Pure Sciences

  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Health Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Meteorology
  • Oceanology
  • Physics
  • Statistics
  • Zoology

Public Life and Government

  • Business Leaders
  • Civil Rights Leaders
  • Diplomats
  • Educational Leaders
  • Environmentalists
  • Government officials
  • Foundation Heads
  • Heads of Research Institutes
  • Heads of State
  • Labor Leaders
  • Lawyers
  • Librarians
  • Philanthropists
  • Political Leaders
  • Religious Leaders

Professor Emeritus/Emerita

To be awarded to an outstanding professor emeritus/emerita of Columbia University

Committee Deliberations

Each spring, the president of the University and the University Senate Committee on Honors and Prizes convene to develop a list of candidates to be approved for the awarding of honorary degrees and the University Medal for Excellence. Candidates who were previously nominated are presented again for consideration, although individuals who have not received serious consideration by the Honors and Prizes committees for at least two consecutive years are generally removed from the list of candidates. The president then formally submits a slate of honorary degree and University Medal for Excellence candidates to the Trustees for their approval. Invitations to the proposed honorees are typically sent out during the summer; the list of honorees is formally announced just prior to Commencement.