2016 Honorary Degree Recipient

Honorary degrees have been a tradition in American higher education for over 300 years. They are conferred honoris causa, "for the sake of honor." A distinction of high order, Carleton has always awarded honorary doctorate degrees sparingly and selects its recipients with great care and with the assent of both the faculty and Board of Trustees, seeking to honor those who have achieved eminence in their own profession or who have rendered distinguished service to society.  We are very proud that at this year’s Commencement ceremony Carleton College will confer an honorary doctorate degree upon Alan C. Page. 

Alan C. Page

Alan C. Page is a former professional football player, retired associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and founder of the Page Education Foundation.

Page spent 15 years in the NFL, becoming the first defensive player in the league’s history to receive an MVP award. While playing football, he became a full-time law student, earning his Juris Doctor in 1978.  He continued to practice law outside of the football season, ultimately retiring as a player in 1981 and committing to his legal career.  In 1985, he was appointed Special Assistant Attorney General and was quickly promoted to Assistant Attorney General.  In 1992, he became the first African-American to be elected to an open seat as an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.  He was re-elected to the seat in 1998, 2004 and 2010.

Page’s achievements in both athletics and his legal career reflect his work ethic and the high value he places on education.  His deep and abiding belief in the importance of education did not stop with his own success. Recognizing a need for our education system to reach more young people of color, he used his 1988 induction into the NFL Hall of Fame to launch the Page Education Foundation with his wife Diane.  From its inception, the nonprofit foundation has offered money and encouragement to students of color facing incredible barriers to attaining their educational dreams.

Page and his daughter, Kamie Page, have written two children’s picture books, The Invisible You (2014) and Alan and His Perfectly Pointy Impossibly Perpendicular Pinky (2013).

Alan C. Page will be awarded the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. 


The honorary degree criteria and process are described here.