Carolina Klüft, honorary doctor at the University of Gothenburg 2021
Carolina Klüft, honorary doctor at the University of Gothenburg 2021
Photo: Johan Wingborg

Honorary doctors, promotors and hosts

At the Conferment of Doctoral Degrees, the honorary doctors of the year are promoted. Originally, the idea of honorary doctors was to honor people who did not have an academic background. An honorary doctor is a person who has benefited the university in various ways. Many people contribute to making the conferment a memorable and enjoyable day, including promotors and hosts. These people are appointed by the respective faculty and are involved in the ceremony in slightly different ways.

How an honorary doctor is appointed

At the beginning of the year, the faculty offices invite all institutions to submit proposals. The faculty board then decides who it will be. Read more in the handling order and guidelines for nominating honorary doctors.

There is a national register of people who have been awarded an honorary doctorate at a Swedish university:

Honorary Doctorate Database, at

In 1907, the first honorary doctor of the University of Gothenburg was appointed. It was the donor Fredrik Gustaf Ekman, who was behind the establishment of an oceanographic institution. In 1916, among others, the composer Wilhelm Stenhammar and Erland Nordenskiöld, head of the Gothenburg Ethnographic Museum, were appointed honorary doctors.

Since 1954, there have been Conferment of Doctoral Degrees in every other year. It was not until the beginning of the 1970s that annual conferments were introduced.

The first female honorary doctor was appointed in 1941. It was Vivi Sylwan, textile expert and head of the textile department at the Röhsska Art and Crafts Museum. Then it was not until 1960 that the University of Gothenburg got its second female honorary doctor. It was Stina Stenhagen who three years later would become the university’s first female professor. Together with her husband Einar, she researched tuberculosis.

In 1923, the university had foreign honorary doctors for the first time. The two were Edmund Gosse from England and the American Amandus Johnson.

Some of the famous honorary doctors

Here are some of the famous people who have been awarded honorary doctorates at the University of Gothenburg over the years: Eyvind Johnson, 1953, Harry Martinson, 1954, Evert Taube, 1966, Alva Myrdal, 1975, Tage Erlander, 1981, Bruno Kreisky, 1981, Ingrid Segerstedt-Wiberg, 1981, Uno Myggan Ericson, 1987, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, 1990, Percy Barnevik, 1991, Maj-Britt Theorin, 1991, Queen Silvia, 1999, Herbert Blomstedt, 1999, Roy Andersson, Göran Rosenberg, 2000, Jan Eliasson, 2001, Bodil Jönsson, 2002, Hans Blix, 2004, PG Gyllenhammar, 1981 and 2003, Kent Andersson 2005, Zygmunt Bauman 2006, Hillary Rodham Clinton 2007, Carin Mannheimer 2011, Cecilia Malmström 2011, Daniel Sjölin 2012, Cecilia Uddén 2014, Ulrika Knutson 2015, Claes Eriksson 2019, Denis Mukwege 2019, David Dencik 2020, Carolina Klüft 2021, Johanna Frändén 2022.

Claes-Olof Olsson, a former employee, compiled a book to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first honorary doctorate in 2007.
“Honorary doctors are goodwill ambassadors and they have in some way made an admirable contribution. Becoming an honorary doctor is an honor for many,” says Claes-Olof Olsson.

Honorary doctors at all faculties

Read more about the respective faculty’s honorary doctors at

School of Business, Economics and Law

Faculty of Humanities

IT Faculty

The Artistic Faculty

Faculty of Science

Sahlgrenska Academy

Faculty of Social Sciences

Faculty of Education

Many people contribute to making the Conferment of Doctoral Degrees a memorable and enjoyable day, including promotors, hosts, and student marshals. These people are appointed by the respective faculty and student organizations and are involved in the ceremony in slightly different ways.


Promotors are professors who are appointed by the respective faculty to perform the promotion of new doctors and honorary and jubilee doctors. In addition to performing the ceremonial on stage, the promotor’s duties also include signing the diploma and possibly giving a speech at the banquet.


Hosts represent the faculty and handle contacts with honorary and jubilee doctors. Their role is important for everything practical to function satisfactorily. In addition to being the contact person for honorary and jubilee doctors, the host’s responsibilities include arranging travel and accommodation, collecting information for insignia and the promotion booklet, registering them and any guests for the ceremony and banquet, and taking care of them while they are here.

Student Marshals

At most of the university’s ceremonies, student marshals participate. It is the student organizations that appoint marshals. The marshals are dressed in academic regalia, i.e., tailcoat or long dress, as well as a student cap and marshal band. Their tasks during, for example the Conferment of Doctoral Degrees, are to act as hosts, show guests the way, distribute programs, participate in the academic procession with banners, etc. In addition, the marshals are a very important element when it comes to creating an academic atmosphere throughout the ceremony.

If you want to know more about being a student marshal at the university, please contact or one of the student organizations below.


Sahlgrenska akademins studentkår, SAKS

Handelshögskolans i Göteborg studentkår

Göta studentkår, GÖTA

Konstkåren, KONST:




Honorary Doctors 1907-2007

Hedersdoktorer vid Göteborgs universitet under 100 år

Swedish book on the honorary doctors at the University of Gothenburg during 100 years.