The University of Detroit Mercy presents here a record of the honors conferred by the University of Detroit, Mercy College of Detroit, and the University of Detroit Mercy. It provides a record of whom and what these institutions chose to honor over the last 100 years. The honors collection recognizes distinguished alumni, individuals who received the President’s Medallion or Mercy Medallion, distinguished professors, professor emeriti, honorary alumni, and honorary degree recipients.
The honorary degree is the highest tribute a University can bestow. It is awarded only to those select individuals who have truly distinguished themselves in their professions and whose character and quality of life is beyond reproach. An honorary degree is one way in which an institution can point out living examples of the values, commitments, and aspirations that it strives to live by and desires that its students and graduates follow. In doing this it can raise the sights of students, faculty, and alumni beyond the everyday to what truly admirable people have accomplished.
This historical record, then, gives a sense of the qualities these three institutions of higher education sought to lift up and honor, and perhaps how those qualities have changed over a long period of time. It should also be noted that an honorary degree needs to be accepted as well as conferred, and the honoree typically must come to the institution to receive the honorary degree. Therefore, this historical record gives an indication of the web of relationships these institutions had developed, and it indicates that the honoree held the institution in sufficiently high esteem to justify the effort of coming to accept the degree and, usually, saying a few words as well. In sum, this record provides evidence of the priorities, relationships, and prestige of these three institutions over the last century.