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The UT Board of Trustees approved a proposal Friday to award four honorary doctoral degrees—three from UT Knoxville and one from the Institute of Agriculture.

The awardees include an Apollo astronaut, a communication industry executive, a former Tennessee governor, and an entrepreneur.

They will receive the degrees at a commencement ceremony over the next academic year.

The recipients of the UT Knoxville degrees:

  • Harrison H. “Jack” Schmitt. He has served as an astronaut (Apollo 17), a US senator from New Mexico, and chair of the NASA Advisory Council. He has been inducted into both the International Space Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame, had a US Department of State leadership award named in his honor, and received the inaugural Columbia Medal from the Aerospace Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
  • Kenneth W. Lowe. He has been one of the leading communication and information industry executives in the world for nearly five decades. He founded and launched HGTV and oversaw the acquisition and transformation of the Food Network and the Travel Channel. He was responsible for relocating the Scripps Network Interactive corporate headquarters from Cincinnati to Knoxville, which has had a significant impact on UT, the city, and the state.
  • Philip Bredesen. As the former governor of Tennessee, Bredesen has made numerous positive contributions to the state and the university. His administration supported the Tennessee Lottery program and the scholarships it funds, and he was instrumental in the creation of the Energy Science and Engineering doctoral program at UT. His interest in the partnership between UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory initiated the Governor’s Chair program, which has attracted 14 renowned scholars and researchers to fill joint appointments with UT and ORNL.

The Institute of Agriculture will award an honorary doctoral degree from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. The recipient:

  • James Herbert. A distinguished alumnus and generous supporter of the university, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree from UT in 1962. The co-founder of the Neogen Corporation, he has been named Michigan Entrepreneur of the Year by USA Today and NASDAQ. He chairs the Board of Directors for the Michigan Strategic Fund.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,