On occasion, Lee University awards an honorary doctorate to individuals who have been determined by Lee's administration and the Board of Directors to have provided significant and meritorious service. According to the Lee University Faculty Handbook & Constitution:
The basic philosophy of the honorary degree program at Lee University is that the person on whom the degree is conferred is a man or woman of academic stature in his/her field. It is assumed that he/she has made some academic contribution that is objectively recognizable as meriting the distinction of a doctorate. Essentially, the honorary degree has the same philosophy behind it that is behind the earned doctorate; the recognition of outstanding educational contribution, outstanding progress in personal study and teaching.
The recipient must have the potential and bearing of a scholar as evidenced by study, academic breadth, experience, contributions in the academic fields, and outstanding accomplishments in his/her profession.
In 1979 the Board of Directors adopted the following criteria and procedures for the awarding of honorary doctorates;
1. That three categories of recognition determine those upon whom the honor is to be conferred:
b. Humanitarianism and philanthropy
c. Singular professional achievement
2. That four considerations determine the procedures for nominations to the conferral of the honor:
a. That nominations be received by the President, reviewed by the Academic Council (in the case of “a” and “c” above) and by the Cabinet (in the case of “b” above), returned to President with the advice of the Council, and submitted to the Board of Directors;
b. That no more than five such honors be conferred within any five–year period, and that each category of recognition be represented at least once during that five–year period;
c. That at least once in each five–year period consideration be given to conferring the honor upon one already having earned the doctorate; and
d. That Lee University exercise considerable reserve in conferring such an honor upon anyone within the institution.
Lee University is eager to recognize persons whose careers, within or without the church, have been ones of conspicuous achievement, especially in educational, humanitarian, and philanthropic areas. The sum of a nominee’s contribution should have brought favorable attention to the Church of God and/or Lee University and should have provoked a level of public attention so impressive that the university wished to identify with him/her by the awarding of a degree honoris causa.
It should be emphasized that conferral of this honor is a means of institutional recognition for some outstanding accomplishment and not a means of providing a person without an earned doctorate with some substitute for one. We feel that the prestige of the Lee University honorary degree would be enhanced if the recipients were, on occasion, persons already having earned doctorates. This would serve to accentuate the true purpose of the honorary degree." (Lee University Faculty Handbook & Constitution, 2020-21)
The following persons have received an honorary doctorate from Lee: