AU to grant Brokaw honorary degree
Tom Brokaw, a television journalist and author, will be awarded doctor of letters degree during a ceremony at 9 a.m. Nov. 14 at the Squadron Officer School’s Polifka Auditorium. (Photo/David Shankbone)
AU to grant Tom Brokaw honorary degree

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

10/14/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- In recognition for his dedication to today's service members, Air University will award an honorary degree to television journalist and author Tom Brokaw.

Dr. Bruce Murphy, vice president for academic affairs, said Brokaw was an ideal choice because of his prominence and strong alliance with the military.

"He's a representative of the media who tells the military story," he said. "He tells how American citizens serve their country."

Brokaw has been a correspondent for NBC News and served as anchor and managing editor of "NBC Nightly News." In his book "The Greatest Generation," he compiled stories of ordinary men and women who became heroes during World War II.

"This is a man who yields incredible respect," said Dr. Hank Dasinger, AU chief of academic affairs.

Brokaw will receive a doctor of letters degree during a ceremony at 9 a.m. Nov. 14 at the Squadron Officer School's Polifka Auditorium.

Since 2008, AU has awarded four honorary degrees "to recognize outstanding individuals who have made exceptional contributions consistent with the AU mission and to bring honor to the university," Murphy said.

In 2004 the Board of Visitors, BOV, encouraged AU to enhance its university culture by awarding honorary degrees, offering new master's degrees, developing a doctoral degree program and expanding the commander's title to include "president."

"This reinforces the idea that we are a military school and a university," Dasinger said. "We're balancing two cultures."

Part of this development included distributing honorary degrees to recognize those who made extraordinary contributions to education, governmental, public service, civic and community affairs; industry, commerce and labor; and the arts, letters and sciences. Those honored will receive an honorary degree hood during the ceremony.

Anyone can submit a nomination for an honorary degree through the AU academic office. Each year the BOV receives five to six nominations and brings its own selections to the discussion.

The board makes a recommendation to the university commander and president, who approves the selection.

"The honorary degree is about bestowing recognition on a prominent individual," Dasinger said. "We try to identify people with a national or international connection or with some connection to the university."

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the first recipient, awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree in April 2008.

The additional three recipients were honored for their contributions to aviation with doctor of science degrees. Retired Col. Frank Borman received his honorary degree in June 2009 after commanding the Gemini 7 mission and serving as instructor at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School.

Retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden Jr. was honored in November 2010. He was commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and is the administrator of NASA.

Robert "Bob" Hoover was recognized in December 2010. While serving as a pilot in World War II, he spent 16 months in a German prison camp. After leaving the Air Force, he became a civil air show pilot and is known as one of the founding fathers of modern aerobatics.