Regents' Policies


UNM_Policy_Office-L communicates important policy announcements (such as policy approvals, revisions, or campus review-and-comment periods).

UNM Policy Office

MSC05 3357
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Physical Location:
Scholes Hall
114 A and B

Phone: (505) 277-2069

Regents' Policy Manual - Section 1.6: Special Recognition and Awards

Adopted Date: 09-12-1996
Amended: 11-14-1996
Amended: 03-22-2022


This policy applies to awards of honorary degrees and other types of special recognition given on behalf of the University at the discretion of the Board of Regents. This policy does not preclude other kinds of awards and recognition by other units or officials of the University.


It is the practice of the Board of Regents of the University to recognize from time to time the contributions of special people to the University, to the state of New Mexico, or to the national or international community. The Board has established the following awards for this purpose.

  1. Honorary Degrees. The University wishes to recognize and thereby encourage individuals by awarding special honors to those persons who have contributed significantly to the cultural or scientific development of the Southwest, or to the spiritual or material welfare of its people. At the same time, due regard should be paid to eminent individuals and scholars whose contributions are of general significance and transcend geographic limitations. In no case should a passing courtesy to the University, such as the delivery of a commencement address, be the sole or principal cause for such honorary awards. The award of an honorary degree to a person seeking or holding a political office does not indicate endorsement by the University. Political involvement should not prevent selection of an individual for an honorary degree. It is not the University's policy to award honorary degrees to active members of the faculty, staff, or administration. This does not preclude, in an exceptional case, the awarding of an honorary degree to an emeritus member of the faculty or to a former employee whose stature remains or becomes eminent in the years following active service with the University. In such exceptions, sufficient time shall have elapsed to insure objectivity in the process of selection.

  2. Regents' Meritorious Service Medal. The Regents' Meritorious Service Medal will be awarded to a member or members of the faculty and staff of the University in recognition of extraordinary and distinguished service to the University. The criteria for the faculty award will be outstanding teaching, service to students, research, scholarship, publications, performance in faculty and University governance, or other such contributions which have enhanced the institution. The criteria for the staff award will be outstanding performance of duties and meritorious service which have enhanced the University.

  3. Regents' Recognition Medal. The Regents' Recognition Medal will be awarded to a person or persons, other than faculty or staff, who have performed outstanding service to the institution. The criteria for the award will be extraordinary and unselfish assistance to the University over an extended period of time. However, a single service might be recognized if, in the judgment of the Regents, circumstances warrant. Selection will be made by the Regents.

  4. The University Medal. The University Medal will be awarded by the Regents to a person of national or international accomplishment deserving of high honor. In keeping with the universal nature of the knowledge and public service which are embodied in the very essence of the University, the University Medal will be used to express the appreciation of the University for the accomplishments and contributions of the individual, which may be in any field of knowledge or public service of national or international character. The medal will be awarded only in the event that the attainments of a qualified individual are such that the administration and Regents are persuaded that this rare and special recognition is clearly deserved.

  5. Special Commendation. A special commendation may be awarded to particularly meritorious nominees for any of the Regents' Meritorious Service Medal, the Regents' Recognition Medal, or the University Medal.

Selection Process and Awards

Honorary degrees will be awarded only upon the approval of the University faculty and the Regents, and will be based on recommendations from the Honorary Degree Committee, whose membership is set out in the Faculty Handbook. 

The President of the University periodically will solicit and receive nominations for the Regents’ Meritorious Service Medal, the Regents’ Recognition Medal and the University Medal in time for the review process described here to take place before the next commencement. The President of the University will provide the charge and all nominations to the Regents’ Special Recognition and Awards Committee, which will be comprised of one person appointed by the President of the Faculty Senate, one person appointed by the President of the Staff Council, one graduate student appointed by the President of the Graduate and Professional Student Association, one member appointed by the President of the Associated Students, a Chair appointed by the President of the University, and such additional members as the President of the University shall deem helpful. These additional members may be drawn from the UNM Foundation, school and colleges at the University, the branch campuses, alumni, athletics and elsewhere. The Committee will recommend particular nominees for each award to the Regents, which shall make final decisions with regard to the awards. 

Except for Special Commendations, awards will be medals, or other appropriate signs of recognition, bearing, as appropriate and as space permits, the seal of the University and other designs, and will be accompanied by a certificate upon which the nature of the service will be cited.  Special Commendations shall be in the form of a certificate.