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Honorary Doctorate Degree

Yearly deadline for nominations is December 31st

Click here to access our nomination form.  >>

Faculty, staff, students and private citizens are welcome to nominate candidates for a University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Honorary Doctorate Degree.

Honorary Doctorate Degrees are given to individuals of exceptional accomplishment and distinction who have made significant contributions to the university, region, state or nation. The UW Oshkosh Honorary Doctorate Degree Committee recommends candidates to the Chancellor who, with the University of Wisconsin System President, recommends nominees to the Board of Regents.

Strong consideration is given to those who: (a) have a current or past connection to the University, region (Oshkosh and Greater Fox Valley) or state of Wisconsin; (b) are distinguished alumni or (c) display excellence in reflecting the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s vision of engaging people and ideas for common good.


Robert Keller, ’69, received a University of Wisconsin Oshkosh honorary doctorate at the 144th spring commencement ceremony Saturday, May 12.

Keller received the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, at the 2 p.m. commencement ceremony.

Keller is an award-winning alumnus of UW Oshkosh, the chair of the Board of J. J. Keller & Associates Inc., and an engaged and giving citizen and philanthropist dedicated to improving lives in the Fox Valley region.

The UW Oshkosh honorary doctorate recognizes individuals of exceptional accomplishment and distinction who have made significant contributions to the University, region, state or nation.

“Mr. Keller built a career upon forward-thinking business acumen, passionate philanthropy and significant engagement with the students and faculty members of UW Oshkosh,” UW Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said. “He has long been dedicated to bold initiatives that confront some of the Fox Valley and Northeast Wisconsin’s greatest challenges, including, but not limited to, poverty, hunger and the need for effective, accessible mental health services.

“Mr. Keller has been just as steadfast a supporter of UW Oshkosh, sharing experience and insight in the classroom while providing students and graduates paths to internships and rewarding careers. He has helped inspire and promote meaningful change and greater prosperity for more people,” Leavitt said.

Keller began his career at J. J. Keller & Associates, his family’s company, in 1956, sweeping floors and running errands. While attending UW Oshkosh and pursuing his degree in economics, he wrote his first advertising copy for the company and, soon thereafter, earned his role as advertising and marketing manager.

During the next 20 years, he would ascend to the company’s CEO role while also serving as the president of the J. J. Keller Family Foundation Inc. Today, J. J. Keller & Associates has grown to support 600,000 clients and approximately 90 percent of Fortune 1000 companies. The company helps organizations in the transportation industry stay informed about and compliant with safety regulations. It currently employs more than 1,400 associates.

In an announcement to J. J. Keller associates, the company released the following: “This degree recognizes the wisdom with which Bob has led J. J. Keller & Associates Inc. through the years and as chairman of our board today. Our associates, the local community and our customers across the nation have all been influenced for the better by his contributions. It is a well-deserved honor!”

Keller received the UWO Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004. He has had deep and significant engagement with the students and faculty members of his alma mater, serving as an Executive in Residence within the College of Business.

In addition to supporting the growth and modernization of the campus’s academic and athletic facilities, he and his family foundation have also helped launch and support the UW Oshkosh-founded Wisconsin Family Business Forum and the Alta Resources Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, entities sustaining family-owned businesses in the state and cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship among the student body. Keller also has served on numerous volunteer and advisory boards dedicated to advancing UW Oshkosh’s mission.

Bob and his wife, Lynne, have four children: Marne and Rustin (both J. J. Keller associates), Rachael and Adam. Bob and Lynne also are proud grandparents of nine.


  • Charles Fritz Hyde, chairman of the Board of Oshkosh B’Gosh
  • Sister Irene Kohne, past administrator of St. Frances Home/St. Clare Terrace Apartments for the elderly
  • F. John Barlow, president of AZCO Inc., Appleton
  • David C. Leach, former president of Leach Co.
  • Dennis J. Noone, retired president of Firstar Bank of Oshkosh
  • Jean Nelson, retired director of UW Oshkosh Alumni Association
  • Philip Nelson, former vice president of Wisconsin Public Expenditure Survey
  • John L. Vette III, president and chief executive officer of SNC Manufacturing Co. Inc., Oshkosh
  • Howard Curler, retired chairman of the Bemis Co.
  • Allen Guentzel, retired director of Employee Relations/Corporate Staff, Kimberly-Clark, Corp.
  • James Mather, district director of Department of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Roy Vander Putten, chairman and CEO of Trade Resources International
  • Lorraine Sams, retired Green Meadow School elementary teacher
  • Verna M. Fowler, founding president of the College of Menominee Nation
  • Michael Wachtel, late executive vice president and chief operating officer of Oshkosh B’Gosh
  • John Gilbert, chairman of the board of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
  • Phyllis Leach, humanitarian and philanthropist, major supporter and ambassador for breast cancer research and awareness
  • Paul Poberezny, founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
  • Gaylord Nelson, former governor and founder of Earth Day
  • Ruth DeYoung Kohler, director of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center
  • Craig Culver, CEO of Culver’s Franchises
  • David Green, former president/CEO of Evergreen Retirement Community
  • The Mercury 13, pioneer women of the 1960s space program
  • Ted Leyhe, longtime president of Miles Kimball Co.
  • Robert Pederson, CEO of Goodwill Industries
  • Muriel Howard, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)
  • Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), initiated Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP)
  • Edward Penson, former UW Oshkosh Chancellor who led the change in admission standards from open admissions to more standard criteria
  • Jim VandeHei, cofounder and executive director of Politico, a leading web-based media company focusing on national politics
  • Dr. Martin Viessmann, owner of The Viessmann Group GmbH, Germany, partnered with UWO and BioFerm Energy Systems to build an alternative power plant in Oshkosh (first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere)
  • Stew, the Tony Award-winning musician, singer-songwriter, playwright, actor, and educator who performed and taught classes at UW Oshkosh on multiple occasions from 2011 to 2013 and whose work continues to be taught here
  • Robert J. DeKoch & Kathi Seifert, accomplished leaders and co-chairs for New North, Inc.  Both previously received the Chancellor's Medallion as founders of the regional economic development organization
  • Oman’s University of Nizwa  Chancellor Ahmed Khalfan Al-Rawahi and Vice Chancellor Abdullaziz  Alkindi who have a strong connection and partnership with UW Oshkosh. The University of Nizwa is a high quality academic institution that provides access to higher education for women in Oman with 85% women enrollment
  • Stan F. Mack II, superintendent of the Oshkosh Area School District (OASD)
  • Daniel Burrus, owner of Burrus Research



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