Oscar award winner chosen as next honorary degree recipient

James F. Ivory with his Oscar

Award-winning filmmaker James F. Ivory, the man behind movies such as “Howard’s End” and “A Room With a View,” will be the University of Oregon’s next recipient of an honorary degree, the institution’s highest academic award.

Ivory graduated from the UO’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts, now the College of Design, in 1951 with a degree in fine arts. He joins other recent honorees including Phil Knight, Carrie Mae Weems and Lorry Lokey.

The UO Board of Trustees approved the award at its March meeting. Planning is currently underway for Ivory to visit campus to receive his honorary degree.

“James Ivory is the ideal recipient for an honorary degree,” said Michael H. Schill, UO president and professor of law. “He is not only an award-winning and acclaimed writer, director and producer who has contributed immeasurably to the arts and society, but he has given back generously to our students and university in many ways.”

Raised in Klamath Falls, Ivory is an American film director, producer, screenwriter and recipient of numerous industry accolades, including the 2018 Oscar for best adapted screenplay for the film “Call Me by Your Name.” With his production company Merchant Ivory Productions, he has produced more than 40 films.

For decades, Ivory has co-authored, produced and directed numerous critically lauded films including:

  • “Venice: Theme and Variations,” which was named by The New York Times in 1957 as one of the 10 best nontheatrical films of the year.
  • “A Room with a View,” based on the E.M. Forster novel, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards and voted best film by the Critic's Circle Film Section of Great Britain, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the National Board of Review in the United States, and was awarded the Donatello Prize for best foreign language picture and best director.
  • “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge,” adapted by Ruth Jhabvala from the novels by Evan S. Connell, which received an Oscar nomination as well as the New York Film Critics Circle awards for best actress and best screenplay.
  • “Howards End,” a film Ivory directed, which was nominated for nine Academy awards and won best picture at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards; it also won awards for best picture and best director for Ivory from the National Board of Review.
  • “The Remains of the Day,” nominated for eight Academy Awards.
  • “Call Me by Your Name,” which Ivory co-directed with Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, won an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay.

Ivory has been a part of creating and defining a form of filmmaking so unique and recognizable that the Los Angeles Times declared that in Hollywood “Merchant-Ivory (has become) a genre unto itself.”

“Mr. Ivory embodies the full spirit of the honorary degree,” wrote Philip Scher, divisional dean of social sciences for the College of Arts and Sciences, in Ivory’s nomination for the honorary degree. “Mr. Ivory’s long and critically acclaimed career as one of America’s most important film directors, as well as his special connection to the university and the state of Oregon make him an excellent choice to be granted such an honor.”

At the UO, nominations for honorary degrees come from members of the faculty, staff, alumni and community. Once applications have been reviewed by a committee made up of faculty members, staff and students and voted on by the University Senate, the UO president can forward up to two names each academic year to the UO Board of Trustees for final consideration.

Ivory not only has been a leading figure in the film industry with his work but also has been a good friend of the university. His papers are held by UO Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives.

The committee is actively soliciting nominations for individuals who meet the criteria for an honorary degree. More information about the nomination process and criteria are available on the Office of the President’s website.

—By Jesse Summers and Alyssa Hinojosa, University Communications