University Honours and Recognition Policy (MPF1235)

  • Category: Engagement
  • Review due by: June 23, 2021
  • Version: 10
  • Policy Steward: University Secretary
  • Approved on: October 22, 2018
  • Supporting Processes: Governance Processes
  • Effective date: February 1, 2019
  • Policy Approver: Council
  • Status: Published

1. Objective

The objective of this policy is to guide the recognition of outstanding contributions, distinguished service, and exceptional generosity and support to the University by individuals or communities engaged with the University.

2. Scope

This policy applies to:

(a)    Council-approved honours and awards as listed in section 4.1 of this policy; and

(b)    the appointment of Patrons of the University. 

3. Authority

This policy is made under the University of Melbourne Act 2009 (Vic) and the Council Regulation

4. Policy

4.1. Council approves the honours and awards below on the recommendation of the:

(a)    Governance and Nominations Committee (GNC):

(i)        Fellow of the University of Melbourne recognising exceptional contributions or service to the University and/or to a community engaged with the University;

(ii)       Wilson Medal recognising outstanding contributions or service to the University from the community, or from staff in the event that a staff member makes a significant philanthropic contribution;

(iii)      Gold Medal recognising exceptional service to the University by members of staff and those serving in an honorary capacity, on or after retirement;

(iv)      Silver Medal recognising exceptional service in a particular capacity or field of activity by members of staff and those serving in an honorary capacity, on or after retirement;

(v)       Sir William Upjohn Medal recognising distinguished services to medicine in Australia, awarded every five years;

(vi)      Honorary Doctor of Laws recognising an individual of probity, distinguished by eminent public service, outstanding cultural achievement or other significant activities; and

(vii)     Honorary Doctor (discipline-based) recognising an individual of probity, distinguished by eminence in a specific discipline.

(b) A committee convened by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research):

(i)        Woodward Medal in the Humanities and Social Sciences recognising a member of staff for research considered to have made the most significant contribution to knowledge in a field of humanities and social sciences; and

(ii)       Woodward Medal in Science and Technology recognising a member of staff for research considered to have made the most significant contribution to knowledge in a field of science and technology.

(c)       Executive Director, Human Resources:

(i)        Bronze Medal recognising 25 years of service by members of staff.

4.2. The Vice-Chancellor, on the recommendation of a member of the Senior Executive, appoints distinguished persons as Patrons of the University, to recognise their achievements in, and contributions to, a particular field of endeavour or function.

4.3. Patrons act as advocates for the University’s teaching and learning, research and engagement activities. Accordingly, Patrons must publicly demonstrate their personal commitment to the University and its mission, vision, goals, policies, programs and services, including by:

(a)      actively promoting the University through participation in relevant University communications, events and other activities; and

(b)      having their name included on public lists of supporters.

4.4.  In the course of their appointment, Patrons may be invited to make a financial contribution to the University, or otherwise assist in the University’s fundraising activities.

4.5.  Except as described in sections 4.3 and 4.4 above, Patrons are not actively involved in the delivery or organisation of the University’s activities.

4.6.  Conferral of an award or appointment as a Patron of the University under this policy do not give the recipient any special privileges or any control or responsibility nor must it be used to seek material benefit from association of the name with the University.

5. Procedural Principles

Council-approved honours and awards

5.1. Nominations for honours and awards must include documentation in accordance with the process published by the University Secretary.

5.2. Nominations to Council must include a recommendation and a one page citation.

5.3. Following Council approval of Honorary Doctorates and Fellow of the University awards, the University Secretary informs the proposed recipient of the offer of the degree or award.

5.4. If the proposed recipient accepts the offer, the University Secretary informs the relevant dean that the faculty may commence preparations for conferral of the degree or award.

5.5. Following acceptance of Honorary Doctorates (discipline-based), the President of Academic Board reports the approval to the Academic Board.

5.6. Honorary doctorates and the Fellow of the University of Melbourne awards are conferred at a graduation ceremony or other suitable University ceremony.

5.7. In the event of a change in the recipient's circumstances (for example, if the recipient comes into disrepute) Council may, on reasonable grounds and on the recommendation of the GNC, withdraw an award.

5.8. The University Secretary is responsible for establishing and publishing processes for nominating, considering and awarding University honours and recognition.

Patrons of the University

5.9. A member of the Senior Executive (including a dean) may nominate a Patron to represent a particular endeavour, area or function of the University, in accordance with the processes described in section 5.15.

5.10.The Vice-Chancellor is responsible for:

(a)      considering all nominations; and

(b)      approving and appointing suitable nominees as Patrons.

5.11. The Vice-Chancellor must provide a report at the next Council meeting, listing any Patron appointments since the last Council meeting.

5.12. A Patron is appointed for a term of up to a maximum of five years. The person who nominated the Patron in accordance with section 5.11 (nominator) is responsible for reviewing the appointment no later than six months before the term is concluded.

5.13. Following a review as described in section 5.14, the nominator may recommend that the Patron be re-appointed for a second and further consecutive term.

5.14. In the event of a change in circumstances (for example, if the Patron comes into disrepute) the Vice-Chancellor may, on reasonable grounds, revoke the Patron appointment, in consultation with the nominator. The revocation must be reported at the next meeting of Council.

5.15. The University Secretary is responsible for establishing and publishing processes for nominating, appointing, and reviewing the appointment of a Patron of the University. 


5,15, Records of actions taken in accordance with this policy must be created and managed in accordance with the University’s Records Management Policy.

6. Roles and Responsibilities



Conditions and limitations

Award University honours and recognition


In accordance with this policy and supporting processes 

Report approval of Honorary Doctorates (discipline-based) to Academic Board

President of Academic Board


Nominate a Patron of the University

Member of the senior executive (including a dean)


Appoint Patrons of the University



Review appointment of Patron and recommend that Patron be re-appointed



Revoke Patron appointment in the event of a chance in circumstances


On reasonable grounds, and in consultation with the nominator

Report Patron appointments or revocations to Council



Publish supporting processes

University Secretary

In accordance with this policy


 Senior Executive has the meaning given to it in section 4 of the Vice-Chancellor Regulation.




University Secretary


This policy is to be reviewed by 23 June 2021.


Version Approved By Approval Date Effective Date Sections Modified
1 Council 9 Sep 2013 9 Sep 2013 N/A
2 Governance and Nominations Committee authorised by Council 23 June 2016  21 July 2016  New version arising from the Policy Consolidation Project consolidating the University Honours & Recognition Policy (MPF1235) and the University Honours & Recognition Procedure (MPF1255).
Council 19 April 2017 14 June 2017 Revisions to include information on the body responsible for recommending honours and recognition to Council and information about the appointment of Patrons of the University. Addition of policy principles 4.2 – 4.4. Addition of procedural Principles 5.1 – 5.16.
4 Created in error      
5 Council 30 May 2018 30 May 2018 Removal of (a)- (d) from procedural principle 5.1.
6 created in error

7 created in error      
8 created in error      
9 created in error      
10 University Secretary 22 October 2018 01 February 2019 Editorial amendment formatted 4.1 (c)
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