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Policy on Conferral of Posthumous Degrees

Policy Number ACA-018
Effective Date January 10, 2006
Responsible Office/Person Academic Affairs
Related Policies
Additional History
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University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Academic Affairs Division

Policy on Conferral of Posthumous Degrees

 

(Recommended by the Faculty Senate at Senate meeting of April 4, 2005)

Rationale: The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is a caring and humane institution that takes special responsibility to recognize our students’ achievements. This is especially true for students who have died. This policy is meant to make clear the University’s position, avoid confusion, and empower the Colleges and Provost to award a diploma when appropriate. They are in the best situation to determine if a student has completed enough of the planned degree program to warrant granting a degree from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Policy: The University may grant undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees posthumously. If a College determines that a deceased student was in good standing and had completed enough credits towards a degree, the Chancellor has the authority to grant the degree posthumously, on the recommendation of the dean of the college and in the case of graduate or professional degree students also the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs/Graduate Studies, and then approval by the provost. Undergraduate students should have entered their senior year. Graduate students should have completed enough work toward the thesis or dissertation, if required for the degree, for there to be a draft that the thesis/dissertation committee can review. Other graduate and professional degree candidates should have substantially completed requirements. The request should give in writing the rationale for awarding the degree posthumously, and it must indicate the Dean’s approval on behalf of the faculty in the student’s major department that any remaining credits required for the degree are waived. The award of a posthumous degree does not require Board of Trustees action.

Direct Certification of a Student Who Has Died: If a student dies who is far enough advanced in his or her final term that the instructors can give grades in all courses and all other requirements are also satisfied, then the degree will be awarded as earned. In this case, the transcript does not carry any special notation of posthumous award. The procedure in this case will be the Registrar’s Office degree certification process with the usual approvals, accompanied by a memorandum of explanation from the department.

The special posthumous degree policy detailed here is invoked when a student cannot be certified as having completed all required academic work.

Procedure:

The student’s academic department initiatives the request; the Provost’s Office will notify the student’s department that the department has authority to initiate the certification process for the posthumous degree. The recommendation goes to the dean of the college and in the case of graduate or professional degree students also the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs/Graduate Studies, and then to the provost for approval. If the provost grants approval, the Chancellor is asked to agree; and the Dean of the student’s college and the registrar will be notified. (If the provost does not approve the posthumous degree, the Dean of the student’s college will be so notified.)

After the posthumous degree has been approved, the Office of the Registrar will mail the diploma to the family member, or, if desired, give it to the dean or other appropriate University official(s) for presentation in a private gathering as a special gesture to the family; or a family member may choose to receive the diploma on the student’s behalf at the commencement ceremony. Upon the request of the dean, the Office of the Registrar will make a special effort to get the diploma early. Waiving the graduation fee, the Office of the Registrar will add the student’s name and posthumous designation to the graduation lists and up-coming commencement program. The Registrar shall enter final grades of “IP” in classes that were in progress. The degree will be posted on the student’s permanent record as follows (example):

B.A. BACHELOR OF ARTS

DUAL MAJOR: ECONOMICS/FRENCH

DEGREE CONFERRED POSTHUMOUSLY

No special notation will be made on the diploma.

Special consideration can be given for terminally ill students. Before the student dies, the student and family may be informed of the University’s decision to award the degree posthumously. The dean or other appropriate University official(s) may present the university’s decision to award the degree in a private gathering as a special gesture to the family and student. At this ceremony the student may receive regalia and a diploma  cover. Only after the death will the degree be awarded and the actual diploma prepared and given to the family.

 

 

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