Honorary Doctorates

Honorary Doctorates

What is an honorary doctorate?

Honorary degrees from Bethlehem University are awarded to individuals who have made substantial and meritorious contributions to Bethlehem University, to the Church, to society, to their profession in such a way as to have enlarged human understanding and enriched human life.  An honorary doctorate acknowledges that the recipient deserves to be recognized for their unsurpassed abilities and contributions due to life’s learning and experiences.


Honorary Doctorates Awarded

Brother John Johnston, FSC, (Honorary Doctorate of Pedagogy, 5 October 1998).

Carlo Cardinal Martini, S.J. (Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, 26 June 2005).

Richard and Elizabeth Moley (Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, 2 October 2003)

H. B. Michel Sabbah  (Honorary Doctorate of Pedagogy, 2 October 2003)

H. E. John Cardinal Foley (Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, Honoris Causa, 4 May 2011).

H.E. Monsignor Archimandrite Robert L. Stern, AFSC (Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, Honoris Causa, 9 June 2011).

H.E. Brother Álvaro Rodríguez Echeverría, Superior General of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (Honorary Doctorate of Pedagogy, Honoris Causa, 22 March 2012).

Professor John Kelly, Deputy President of University College Dublin (Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, Honoris Causa, 29 June 2012).

Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President of Lewis University, USA (Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, Honoris Causa, 1 November 2013).

Dr. Jad Isaac, Director of the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem, Palestine (Honorary Doctorate of Humanities,  Honoris Causa, 12 June 2014)

Brother Rodolfo Cosimo Meoli, FSC, USA, President of the International Association of Postulators  (Honorary Doctorate of Humanities,  Honoris Causa, 13 June 2014)

H.E. Dr. Talal Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine, Chairman/Founder of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organisation, Jordan   (Honorary Doctorate of Humanities,  Honoris Causa, 09 August 2014)

H.E. Afif Safieh,  Palestinian Ambassador,   (Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, Honoris Causa, 12 September 2014)

Mr. Frank Jungers, USA, President of ARAMCO, Philanthropist, (Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, Honoris Causa, 9 November 2017)

Mrs. Suad Husseini Juffali, Philanthropist, (Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, Honoris Causa, 30 October 2018)

How are honorary doctorate recipients chosen?

Categories of achievement from which nominees might come include creative and scholarly work, invention, accomplishment of outstanding merit, and distinguished or exemplary leadership or service. Nominees may have rendered significant service in the Church; education; governmental, political, international, civic, and community affairs; industry, commerce and labor, the arts, particularly in activities related to Bethlehem University’s mission; and in philanthropy and sacrificial service or altruism to humanitarian causes.

Honorary degrees may be awarded at official commencements or at special convocations held on the Bethlehem University campus or elsewhere.  There are no restrictions on candidates for honorary degrees as to race, religion, sex, or creed.  Honorary degrees will not be awarded to members of the International Board of Regents, Foundation Board or the Board of Trustees while they are serving in that capacity.

Bethlehem University will confer honorary degrees judiciously. The awarding of an honorary degree is recognized as a unique means by which Bethlehem University acknowledges individuals who exemplify vital human values. The selection of honorary degree recipients should be made in a manner that will bring honor to both the recipients and Bethlehem University. 

What do honorary doctorate recipients receive?

Recipients of an honorary doctorate receive a citation, an imposition, and the conferment of a diploma.  The citation is the public declaration of the reasons that led the candidate to be presented to the Vice Chancellor for the degree. The doctoral insignia, which is called a “patte”, is worn on the left shoulder, over the academic hood. It is of red silk and ermine surmounted by the University coat-of-arms embroidered in metallic thread. The placing of it for the first time is called the Imposition. Thereafter it remains the property of the recipient of the honorary doctorate. The honorary doctorate is conferred to the recipient by the Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University with the following pronouncement:

“As Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, by authority of the powers vest in me, do hereby confer upon you the degree of Doctor of the University, with the title, honour, and privileges that are proper to it.”

The recipient is then handed their diploma.

How can you nominate someone for an honorary doctorate?

A nominee for an honorary degree to be granted by Bethlehem University shall be nominated in writing to the Vice Chancellor by any member of the faculty or staff, as well as by members of the International Board of Regents, the Board of Trustees, Foundation Board, alumni, and friends of the University.  The nominating document shall include a narrative statement (preferably no more than two pages) outlining the qualifications and/or contributions of the nominee which justify awarding the degree.  The nominating document may include any supporting material the nominator wishes to include.  Each nomination should be in writing and should contain the full name of the nominee plus the following information:

1- Date of birth.
2- Chronological list of academic degrees earned and the institutions granting them.
3- Chronological summary of vocational achievements.
4- Other career history or experience that is deemed relevant to the nomination.
5- List of important publications and/or scholarly activities not enumerated under one of the preceding items.
6- List of memberships in learned societies, professional association, and civic organizations, etc.
7- List of significant honors already attained.
8- Any additional comments that add interest or pertinent information concerning the nominee.
9- Connections, if any, with Bethlehem University.

The nominating document shall be written in such a way that the identity and affiliation of the nominator are not revealed. Any nominations failing to meet this requirement shall be transcribed by the Vice Chancellor’s Office in a manner which will preserve the anonymity of the nominator and his / her affiliation. If such a transcript is not possible, the nomination shall be returned to the nominator with a request that it be rewritten in such a way that the identity and affiliation of the nominator are revealed only in the cover letter.

Nominations should be submitted to the Vice Chancellor at least three months (and preferably 5 months) in advance of the possible date of the awarding of the degree – via email to vicechancellor@bethlehem.edu or via postal mail to:
Vice Chancellor
P. O. Box 11407
92248 Jerusalem

Nominations meeting the anonymity requirements will be forwarded by the Vice Chancellor to the Executive Council for their consideration. The Vice Chancellor’s Office shall be the only office where a record of the nominator’s identity is maintained. Upon receiving nominations from the Vice Chancellor’s Office the Executive Council will review the qualifications of candidates for honorary degrees, taking particular care to ensure that any candidate under consideration measures up to the standards and philosophy guiding conferral of the honorary degree. Their recommendations will be forwarded to the Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees will review the nominations from the Executive Council and make a recommendation to the Vice Chancellor. Since the authority to confer honorary degrees rests with the International Board of Regents, the Vice Chancellor shall present to the International Board of Regents the names of persons who are recommended by the Board of Trustees to receive an honorary degree. All matters pertaining to the nomination and selection of honorary degree candidates are confidential.