Procedure on Revocation of or Special Statements Concerning an Honorary Degree


To outline the process for receiving and deciding on a request for the revocation or issuance of a statement concerning an honorary degree in accordance with the Senate’s Policy on the Issuance of a Special Statement Concerning an Honorary Degree.


The university community, including the Senate, will be provided with an opportunity to submit a request for the revocation or issuance of a statement concerning the past awarding of an honorary degree in accordance with the policy referenced above. Five separate constituencies within the university community have been identified for the purposes of this procedure and its related policy: faculty, staff, students, alumni, and retirees.

Step 1 - University Community

Requests concerning an honorary degree may only be initiated by members of the university community, or the University Senate, in accordance with the requirements of this procedure and must be submitted to the University Secretariat.

Requests other than by motion of the Senate, must include:

  • A full articulation of the rationale for why the words and deeds of the honorary degree recipient do not align with the current values of the university; and
  • A petition of at least 200 individual signatures, with a minimum of 20 signatures from at least three of the university’s five primary constituencies as referenced above.

In the case of a request from the Senate, a motion passed by simple majority of that body that the Honorary Degrees Committee undertake a review and bring back its recommendation.

Step 2 - University Secretariat

The University Secretariat will receive requests and ensure that any written submissions meet the above requirements by verifying signatures and constituency as appropriate. Any documented submissions that meet the above requirements will be submitted by the University Secretariat, on behalf of the petitioners or the Senate, to the Senate Honorary Degrees Committee.

Step 3 - Senate Honorary Degrees Committee

The Senate Honorary Degrees Committee will strike an ad hoc subcommittee for each request received. The subcommittee’s membership will be determined by the Senate Honorary Degrees Committee and will include representatives of the following constituencies:

  • Faculty members with credentials relevant to the subcommittee’s work;
  • Students;
  • Staff; and
  • Individuals from the university’s alumni body, as nominated by University Council.

Membership will include representatives from historically excluded and marginalized groups.

The subcommittee will be supported by the University Secretariat.

Step 4 - Ad Hoc Subcommittee

The subcommittee will review the submission in accordance with the principles laid out in the Policy for the Issuance of a Special Statement Concerning an Honorary Degree.

The subcommittee will have access to appropriate resources, including external expertise, as necessary. It will take proactive steps to ensure it hears from marginalized constituencies in a way that avoids placing such persons in a defensive position or seemingly bearing the burden of having to refute submissions from constituencies of dominant social, racial, and other groups.

The subcommittee’s processes and decision-making rationales will be publicly available, as should the methods used and information gathered through research.

The following principles, considerations, and questions will be considered by the subcommittee during its work:

  • What was the original rationale for granting the degree?
  • Is the principal legacy of the individual in question fundamentally at odds with Queen’s vision, mission, and values? Were the individual’s contributions to Queen’s itself and, if so, how fundamental were these contributions?
  • Is the fact of the award a source of connection or community for Queen’s?
  • What harm is associated with the fact of the degree award, and how severe is this harm within local and broader contexts?
  • Does the fact of the degree award impede the university in its mission or impair the honouring of its principles?
  • Does the degree have a negative impact on members of the Queen’s community, their sense of belonging, or on members outside of the Queen’s community?
  • Does fact of the degree award harm Queen’s reputation?
  • Does fact of the degree award impair Queen’s in pursuit of its equity, diversity, inclusiveness, indigenization, or reconciliation goals?
  • If revocation occurs or a special statement were issued:
    • Would it contribute to the creation of a climate of inclusion that is welcoming and safe?
    • Would it be considered meaningful or a benefit to the persons it is designed to speak to, both in the immediate and longer terms?
    • Would a statement serve to justify a past action?

Step 5 - Senate Honorary Degrees Committee

The subcommittee will provide a response for the Senate Honorary Degrees Committee’s consideration detailing its recommendations regarding the submission. The Committee will review these recommendations in accordance with the principles laid out in the Policy and will prepare a recommendation for the consideration of the Senate.

Step 6 - Senate

The Senate shall consider the recommendation of the Senate Honorary Degrees Committee in accordance with the Policy. This decision will be communicated to the petitioners and the university community as a whole.

Date Approved March 1, 2022
Approval Authority Senate
Date of Commencement March 1, 2022
Amendment Dates N/A
Date for Next Review March 2027
Related Policies, Procedures and Guidelines

Policy on the Selection of Honorary Degree Candidates

Senate Rules of Procedure

Policy on the Revocation or or Special Statements Concerning an Honorary Degree