Honorary Degrees
1918 - Present

Decherd Henry Turner 
Doctor of Humane Letters  1991
Status: conferred

With inexhaustible energy, he has consecrated his creative vision to the priesthood of the book. He saw that the art of the book first flowered in the garden of theology. At SMU, he first brought birth to The Bridwell Library. From 1950 to 1980, he assembled one of the world's great collections of books, from the incunabula that enshrine the roots of Western Culture in its first printed books to the rarest examples of fine art printing. In his writings and in the collections he chose, he has evoked and enshrined the seamless continuity of the creative process from the apparently secular to the explicitly sacred. With equal insistence he sustained theological research by expanding The Bridwell's scholarly holdings. That achievement, the core of his vocation, had as its capstone eight years as director of the Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas. In recognition of his commitment to culture, his abiding belief that the past empowers the future, and the excellence he has permanently bound for this University, we are pleased to confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.