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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is seeking honorary degree candidates of exceptional accomplishment and distinction for the spring 2011 commencement.

Nominations are due Friday, Feb. 11.

Past recipients, which include Sister Irene Kohne, former St. Frances Home administrator; the late Gaylord Nelson, former Wisconsin governor and Earth Day founder;  and Paul Poberezny, Experimental Aircraft Association founder, have made major contributions to the University, region, state and/or nation.

In May 2007, UW Oshkosh honored the Mercury 13, the pioneer women of the 1960s space program, for their determination, strength and bravery.

The practice of universities awarding honorary degrees dates back to the Middle Ages and typically involves honoring individuals for their accomplishments. For example, Benjamin Franklin received an honorary master’s degree and two honorary doctorates for his scientific work.

Strong consideration for UW Oshkosh’s honorary degree is given to those candidates who have a current or past connection to Oshkosh and the greater Fox Valley area or Wisconsin; are distinguished alumni or display excellence in reflecting the University’s vision of engaging people and ideas for common good.

When UWO alumnus Craig Culver ’73, co-founder of Culver Franchising, received an honorary doctorate in May 2006, it was the first time he actually wore a cap and gown.

“When I graduated from UWO in 1973, I elected to bypass my graduation ceremony because a very good friend asked me to be best man at his wedding on the same date,” Culver said. “Getting an honorary degree was my proud moment and opportunity to finally cross that stage in gown and funny hat and be recognized as a graduate.”

Culver said he was humbled to receive the honorary doctorate.

“The purpose of honorary degrees is important not only to the university but also to the recipients they are bestowed upon.  To be recognized by the university is simply very rewarding,” he said. “For the University, it’s an opportunity to recognize those who have stood out in some way and an opportunity to cultivate a closer tie with the university and recipient, which may benefit the university in future years.”

Nomination information and forms.