Honorary Degrees

Each year, the Faculty of Whittier College has the distinct honor to nominate and select candidates to receive the College's highest award, the honorary doctorate.

Since the first ceremony in 1913, the impressive list of honorands has included pioneers, rising stars, and key contributors in the fields of science, business, politics, engineering, education, and the humanities, among others.

Year Honored Degree Granted
1913 Ford Ashman Carpenter, Meteorologist Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1915 Thomas Newlin, Former President of Whittier College Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1916 Charles E. Tebbetts, Former President of Whittier College
William P. Trueblood
Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
Master of Arts (M.A.)
1917 Gilbert Bowles Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1918 H. Edwin McGrew, Former President of Penn College
John S. Kimber, Reverend
Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
Bachelor of Arts (A.B.)
1927 Willard O. Trueblood, Member of the Religious Society of FRIENDS
William John Cooper, Educator
Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1928 Lou Henry Hoover, Former First Lady of the United States Doctor of Letters (Litt. D.)
1929 Francis J. Dell
Vierling Kersey, Former Superintendent of Public Instruction
Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1932 Imelda E. Brooks, Former Director of Broadoaks School Master of Education (M.Ed.)
1934 Walter Friar Dexter, Former President of Whittier College Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1937 Mrs. Alexander R. Kerr Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1938 Herbert E. Harris
Gustaf F. Ostrom
Doctor of Letters (Litt.D)
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
1942 O. Herschel Folger, Minister Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
1945 George Reeves Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.)
1946 Jessamyn West McPherson, Author
William O. Mendenhall, Former President of Whittier College
Doctor of Letters (Litt. D)
Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
1947 Harry Noble Wright, Former President of Whittier College Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1948 Howard L. Hockett, Former Director of the Department of Music at Whittier College
Rufus M. Jones, Writer, and Philosopher
Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)
Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
1950 Clarence Evan Pickett, Theologian, and Quaker Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
1951 Henry Joel Cadbury, Biblical Scholar Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1954 Richard M. Nixon, Former President of the United States Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1956 LaMotte T. Cohu, Business Executive Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1957 Preston Hotchkis, Attorney, and Business Executive
Donald Byron Spitler, Reverend
Aubrey Wardman, Business Executive
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1958 Wofford B. Camp Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1959 John Stauffer, Business Executive Doctor of Laws (LL.D)
1960 Benjamin K. Swartz, Archaeologist, and Educator  Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1961 Joseph Herschel Coffin, Author
Herman H. Henkle
Lewis Elden Smith, Business Executive
Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1962 Arthur Fisher Corey
Joseph Parker Cosand, Jr.
Paul S. Smith, Former President of Whittier College
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1963 E. Ezra Ellis
Mark O. Hatfield, Politician
Harold Foster Spencer
Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
1964 William McCormick Blair, Jr., Former Ambassador
Arthur G. Coons, Former President of Occidental College
Edward J. Guirado, Judge
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1965 Evangeline Brainard Burgess
Leslie Townes (Bob) Hope, Comedian, and Actor
Warren Barr Knox, Author
Margaret Chase Smith, Politician
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1966 Chester Earl Holifield, Politician Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1968 Richard Armour, Poet
Eugene Gonzales, Veteran, and Politician
Leo E. Owens, Publisher
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1969 Frank Borman, NASA Astronaut, and Aeronautical Engineer
Robert D. Fisher, Wildlife Researcher
Stanley Meyer, Inventor
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1970 Harold C. Case, Academic Administrator
Raymond Philip Shafer, Attorney, and Politicican
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
At the Inaugural Convocation of Dr. Fredrick Moore Binder
1971 Arnold O. Beckman, Inventor, Chemist, and Philanthropist
Melvin Calvin, Biochemist
Krister Stendahl, Theologian
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
1972 Patricia Reilly Hitt, Former Assistant Secretary of Health, Education, Welfare
Robert M. McAllister, Author
N. Loyall McLaren, Business Executive
Elliot Lee Richardson, Government Official
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Science ((Sc.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
1973 Richard P. Ettinger, Jr., Publisher, and Philanthropist
Allan W. Ostar, Educator, and Activist
W. Clement Stone, Business Executive, and Philanthropist
Doctor of Letters (Litt. D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1974 Jessamyn West McPherson, Author
Donald E. Graham, Publisher, Attorney
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1975 John Hope Franklin, Historian
Walter Manuel Garcia, Real Estate Executive
Howard Payne House, Otologist
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Science (Sc. D.)
1976 Thomas Bradley, Former Mayor of Los Angeles, and Politician
William H.D. Hornaday, Reverend
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
1977 Albert R. Behnke, Jr., Physician
Thomas W. Bewley, Attorney
John K. Van de Kamp, Former Los Angeles District Attorney
Beverly M. Stauffer, Philanthropist
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
1978 Jan J. Erteszek, Legal Assistant
Ross McCollum, Professional Cricket Player
Carl E. Sagan, Astronomer 
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Science (Sc. D)
1979 Ray Douglas Bradbury, Author, and Screenwriter
Henry A. Lacy, Diplomat
John A. Murdy, Jr., Business Executive
Doctor of  Letters (Litt. D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
1980 Theodor Seuss Geisel, Author
John Houseman, Actor, and Producer
Doctor of  Letters (Litt. D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
1981 Julian Nava, Educator
Wallace R. Turner, Journalist
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1982 Ernest L. Boyer, Educator
Oscar O. Marshburn, Local Business Executive
Carl L. Randolph. Jr., Business Executive
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1983 Knud Helm-Erichsen, Business Executive
Charles T. Manatt, Lawyer, and Politician
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1984 Paul Blair Salmon, Professional Baseball Player and Coach
Peter Heath Dailey, Former US Ambassador
Richard H. Deihl, Lieutenant, and Business Executive
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)
1985 Jan de Hartog, Playwright
Klane E. Robison
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
1986 Ernest J. Gaines, Author
Robert F. Rockwell, Researcher, and Professor
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1987 Yuri V. Medvedkov, Professor
Jack Smith, Filmmaker, and Actor
William F. House, Medical Researcher
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
1988 Francis L. Dale, Former US Ambassador
Stuart E. Gothold, Professor
Joseph W. Elder, Scholar
Barry Lopez, Author
R. Chandler Myers, Lawyer
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1989 Dorothy Wright Nelson, Judge
F. Sherwood Rowland, American Nobel laureate, Professor of Chemistry 
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
1990 Morris S. Dees, Jr., Attorney
Benjamin B. Tregoe, Jr., Business Executive
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
1991 Paul C.W. Chu, Physicist
Martin E. Marty, Religious Scholar
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
1992 Donald M. Stewart, Former President of Spelman
Ruth B. Shannon, Performer
Ed L. Shannon, Jr., Business Executive
Tanya Tull, Philanthropist
Doctor of  Letters (Litt.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Social Science (Sc.D.)
1993 Edward James Olmos, Actor, and Producer
Lilian G. Katz, Educate
Gordon Gund, Business Executive
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
1994 Archbishop Trevor Huddleston, Archbishop, and Philanthropist
Rayburn S. Dezember, Business Executive, and Philanthropist
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
1995 Frank O. Gehry, Architect
Clinton O. Harris
Harry W. Nerhood, Former Professor
Doctor of Humanities
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
1996 Dolores Lautrup Ball, Civic Activist
Al Martinez, Writer
Harriet H. Doerr, Author
Judith Malina, Actress, Director, and Writer
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
1997 Robert F. Erburu, Former Business Executive
Douglas W. Ferguson, Former Professor of Economics
Dorothy Antoinette Handy (Miller), Musician
Tina Howe, Playwright
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
1998 John A. Accardi, Business Executive
Antonia M. Hernandez, Attorney, and Activist
Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Author
Donald E. Wood
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
1999 Charlotte D. Graham, Philanthropist
Barry Munitz, Business Executive
Anders Uhrskov, Former Director of the Danish Institute for Study Abroad
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2000 Anthony R. Pierno '54, Attorney
Robert A. Skotheim, Business Executive
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2001 Michael Weinstein, Business Executive, and Philanthropist 
Julia Scofield Russell, Ecofeminist
Esteban E. Torres, Politician
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2002 Linda & Peter Biehl, Founders of Amy Biehl Foundation
Willard V. Harris, Jr., Business Executive
Norman Y. Mineta, Politician
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2003 Charles Johnson, Writer, and Philosopher
Rosario Marin, Former U.S. Treasurer
Alice Newsom, Community Leader
Daniel Schorr, Journalist
Lisbeth Schorr, Policy Analyst
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2004 Simon A. Levin, Ecologist
Rev. Cecil L. "Chip" Murray, Pastor, and Activist
Martin Ortiz '48, Founder of the Center of Mexican American Affairs
B. LaRae Orullian, Business Executive
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2005 Alfred J. Gobar '53, Economist and Business Executive
Rafer Johnson, Film Actor and Decathlete
Ruben Martinez, Journalist
Gordon Sato, Cell Biologist
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2007 Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles
Isabel Allende, Writer
William C. Gordon, Author
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2008 Justice Richard Goldstone, South African Judge
Dr. Michael Shermer, Scientific Writer
Venerable Grand Master Hsing Yun, Buddhist Monk
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2009 Marian Wright Edelman, Activist
Al Young, Poet
Bharati Mukherjee, Writer
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2010 Nilo Cruz, Playwright
Luc Montagnier, Virologist
Keith Jackson, Sports Commentator
Tim O'Brien, Novelist
Bill McKibben, Environmentalist
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2011 Bill Moyers, Journalist, and Politician
Judith Davidson Moyers, Producer
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2012 David Bohnett, Technology Entrepreneur
Richard Solomon, Politician
Dr. Mario J. Molina, Chemist
Dr. Rosemary Radford Ruether, Feminist Theologist
Chauncey Veatch, Professor
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2013 Sonia Nazario, Journalist Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2014

Father Gregory Boyle, Priest, and Business Executive
Dr. Maggie Koong, Business Executive
Gloria Molina, Politician
Peter Verbiscar-Brown, Business Executive

Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)

2015 Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2016

Maria Contreras-Sweet, Business Executive
James "Mudcat" Grant, Professional Athlete

Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)

2017 Solomon Trujillo, Technology Executive Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
2019

Maria S. Salinas, Business Executive
Lydia Kennard, Business Executive

Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)