An Honorary Degree at Southern Illinois University Carbondale should be reserved for outstanding scholarly contribution or for a person of considerable renown in any field of activity. If given for other than scholarly contribution, the Honorary Degree should be awarded only to those persons who have uniquely contributed to human well-being or whose accomplishments have resulted in a marked benefit to society.
Nominations are due by Wednesday, October 25, 2017.
For nomination guidelines and contact information for the Honorary Degree, please go view the Nomination Guidelines and Deadlines.
View a list of previous recipients.
2018 Honorary Degree
Janice L. Jacobs
Doctorate of Public Service
Janice Jacobs has had a distinguished diplomatic career. Jacobs became a Foreign Service Officer in March 1980 and over the course of her career has held positions in Washington DC and abroad. Overseas assignments include stints in Nigeria, Ethiopia, France, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. Ms. Jacobs returned to the U.S. in 2002 to begin assignment as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Jacobs oversaw the revamping of visa issuance policies. Appointed U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau by President George W. Bush in 2005, Ambassador Jacobs was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in February 2006 and presented her credentials to President Wade in Dakar in April 2006. In 2008, Jacobs was named Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In this position Jacobs was responsible for the State Department’s second largest bureau with 12,000 employees worldwide who were responsible for protecting U.S. citizens abroad and adjudicating U.S visas and passports. Although officially retired from the State Department in April 2014, Ambassador Jacobs returned in 2015 in the capacity of Transparency Coordinator, at the request of Secretary of State, John Kerry. In this position, she coordinated the State Department’s response to FOIA requests, including those related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and sought improvements to the State Department’s record management policies and practices.
Ambassador Jacobs is a second-generation Foreign Service officer. Her father, the late Dr. Robert Jacobs, worked for the predecessor to the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Point Four Program, and moved his family to Ethiopia and Thailand. The family returned to their southern Illinois roots during Ambassador Jacobs’ high school years at the request of Delyte Morris so that Robert Jacobs (SIUC Class of 1935) could become SIUC’s dean of international programs.
Ms. Jacobs was presented an Alumna Achievement Award at the 2010 Inspiring Women Gala. After her 2014 retirement, Ms. Jacobs returned to SIUC as a visiting lecturer in political science, teaching courses on terrorism/counterterrorism, the Middle East, and immigration reform. During her semester-long tenure, she also served as a consultant to SIU’s Center for International Education.
In addition to her bachelor’s degree from SIU Carbondale in French, Ms. Jacobs earned a master’s degree from the National War College.
2018 Honorary Degree
Richard W. Peck
Doctorate of Literary Arts
Richard Peck is the first children’s author to receive a National Humanities Medal (2002) in a White House ceremony. He was among the writers Mrs. Laura Bush sent to the first Russian Book Festival (2005) in Moscow. Two of his books have won John Newbery Medal awards. His newest book, a middle grade novel, The Best Man, was a Boston Globe/Hornbook Honor Book in 2017. He holds an undergraduate degree from DePauw University, in Indiana and an MA in English from SIU in 1959.
2018 Honorary Degree
Doctorate of Performing Arts
Richard Roundtree’s life and career would change forever in 1971 when Gordon Parks chose him to play private detective John Shaft in the iconic “Shaft” movie franchise. This launched Richard’s five-decade long career with a role that to this day is recognized as being a turning point for African American leading men in film.
Instantly his name and face became recognizable to movie-goers around the world. Although in the early 1970s quality roles for African-American actors were scarce, Richard was able to assemble an impressive resume while continuing to make films that challenged the stereotypes of the time with such projects as “Man Friday” and “Charley One-Eye” on the big screen, along with the television films “Roots” and “Fire House”. But making social statements on racial equality wasn’t the only new ground Richard’s characters portrayed. In the early 90’s he recurred on the FOX sitcom “Roc” as a gay man who was getting married to his long-time partner. This was a first for network television.
In the over 100 film and television projects that have followed Richard has shared the screen with a list of some of Hollywood’s most legendary actors including Clint Eastwood, Peter O’Toole, David Niven, Laurence Olivier, in addition to Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman, and Brad Pitt.
On television he has been a series regular on several hit shows where he has garnered an NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Series, and a Peabody Award. He recently wrapped his 4th season on BET’s #1 show “Being Mary Jane”, in addition to recurring on the FOX show “STAR”. Now coming full circle he will be reprising his Shaft character in the New Line “Shaft” reboot shooting in 2018.
An advocate in the fight against breast cancer and a 25-year male breast cancer survivor himself, Richard has taken a stand by participating in events that help raise awareness and funds towards finding a cure.