Honorary Degrees

For a listing of previous Honorary Degree recipients, please visit the Archives page.

The 2021 Honorary Degree recipients are listed below.

Two distinguished leaders will receive honorary degrees at Notre Dame’s 176th University Commencement Ceremony on May 23.


Jimmy Dunne Commencement Speaker 2021

Jimmy Dunne, a University of Notre Dame Trustee and alumnus will be the principal Commencement speaker and receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. 







Thomas Burish Honoree Recipient 2021

Thomas Burish (doctor of laws)

the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost of Notre Dame from 2005 to 2020, also will receive an honorary degree at the University Commencement Ceremony. As the University’s provost, or chief academic officer, Burish worked with the deans, faculty, administration and others to advance Notre Dame’s role as a preeminent research university with a distinctive Catholic character that provides an unsurpassed commitment to undergraduate and post-baccalaureate education. In doing so he oversaw the many academic offices, programs and initiatives led by the Provost’s Office, including colleges and schools, institutes and centers, libraries, student advising, admissions, financial aid, the Registrar’s Office, Snite Museum of Art and DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

Among the many notable advances made during Burish’s 15 years as provost were the doubling of research expenditures; investments in research clusters devoted to areas such as nanotechnology, global health, the environment, and advanced studies; creation of the Harper Cancer Research Institute and the IDEA Center at Innovation Park; strengthening of international programs through the creation of Global Gateways in Beijing, Dublin, Jerusalem, London and Rome; and the establishment of the Donald R. Keough School of Global Affairs, the first new college or school at Notre Dame in nearly a century.

Burish graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame in 1972 and earned master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology and clinical psychology from the University of Kansas. He was a distinguished professor at Vanderbilt University before serving for 10 years as its provost. Prior to returning to his alma mater, Burish was the president of Washington and Lee University for three years.