Academic Affairs

Policies/Reports: Award of Posthumous Degree

A posthumous baccalaureate degree may be conferred upon a student who dies prior to but close to completion of all requirements of the degree being pursued. The University of North Carolina Wilmington awards such degrees in recognition of the academic achievement of the deceased student. In doing so it acknowledges the loss to the university, family and friends and extends to them the opportunity to share in the academic success of the deceased student.

To be eligible for the award of a posthumous degree, the student generally must have met the following conditions:

  • At the time of death, the student was enrolled in his/her senior year.
  • The student was in good academic and disciplinary standing and was successfully progressing toward completion of requirements for the degree to be awarded. In particular, at the time of death the student had a 2.0 GPA or better, was within 15 credit hours of completion of all requirements or in the final term of completion of all their requirements, and had satisfied at least 20 hours of the residency requirement.
  • The student must have declared a major and completed at least one half of the
    requirements for the major that will be recorded on the diploma.
  • Recommendation for award of the degree was made by the faculty in the student's major department, and approved by the department head, school or college dean, Provost, Chancellor, and Board of Trustees.

Exceptions to these guidelines may be made when the student's death occurred during or as a result of participation in university-sponsored activities, or when chronic illness prevented current enrollment.

Approval Process

The process for identifying and considering candidates for the award of degrees
posthumously shall be as follows:

  1. Upon learning of the death of a University of North Carolina Wilmington
    student, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs will notify the relevant dean.
  2. The dean shall ascertain the academic and disciplinary standing of the student.
    The dean 's office will work with the department chair. The departmentalfaculty, department head and dean will determine if the student's overallrecord merits further consideration and recommendation that the posthumousaward be granted; such information will be communicated to the Provost.
  3. The Provost will weigh all information relating to each case independently and
    will prepare a recommendation to the Chancellor. If the Chancellor supports the recommendation it will be presented to the Board of Trustees who willdetermine if the degree is to be awarded.
  4. If the Board of Trustees approves, the Chancellor's Office will notify the Registrar.

Awarding of Posthumous Degrees

  1. Upon approval by the Board of Trustees, the following procedure will be followed:
    The family of the deceased will be notified of the approval.
  2. The degree will be conferred at a future commencement exercise.
    a. Names of all recipients of posthumous degrees will be listed separately,
    along with degree and major, in the commencement program.
    b. Special recognition of these students will be made by the Chancellor just prior to the individual recognition of all degree candidates present at the ceremony.
    c. Families who choose to attend commencement activities will be provided reserved seating and the Chancellor will note their presence as he or she recognizes the posthumous degree recipients.
  3. The posthumous nature of the award will be indicated on the diploma, the
    student's permanent record and in the commencement program
  4. If the major department does so certify, the Registrar shall enter final gradesof "P" in classes in which the student was enrolled.

Extraordinary Circumstances

Cases that do not meet the above specified criteria may be considered when extraordinary circumstances prevail. For example, the student died while carrying out a heroic deed, or while performing outstanding service to the University or community, or after having completed an outstanding academic record, piece of original research, or creative project; and other exceptional cases. In such cases, the appropriate faculty, department head, dean, and the Provost will be consulted prior to a recommendation being prepared for the Chancellor's and Board of Trustees' consideration.