U-M Law professor awarded Oxford honor

 By Lori Atherton

Human rights expert and William W. Cook Global Law Professor Christopher McCrudden has been awarded the prestigious Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) degree from the University of Oxford. The degree will be presented to him during a formal ceremony in Oxford next summer.
The DCL is considered one of the “higher degrees” conferred by Oxford, which include the Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Letters, Doctor of Science, and Doctor of Medicine degrees. “Until the 20th century, these higher degrees were the only type of doctoral award available at Oxford,” said Prof. McCrudden. He noted, however, that the DCL is second in order of precedence to the Doctor of Divinity degree, “just so lawyers recognize that there is an even higher authority than the law!”

Prof. McCrudden earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford in 1981, and was only eligible to apply for the DCL 66 terms, or 22 years, after he first entered the University. Unlike most other doctorates, which are awarded on the basis of a thesis, the DCL is awarded on the basis of the applicant's already published work, which must demonstrate “evidence of the candidate’s fitness for the degree” and “…consist of an original contribution to the advancement of knowledge of such substance and distinction as to give the candidate authoritative status in some branch or branches of legal learning.”

The Board of the Faculty of Law at Oxford reviews the candidate’s application and, if it deems the published work (either a published book or published books or papers) is appropriate, appoints two judges — a senior academic from Oxford and another from outside the University — who further study the material and determine whether the candidate should be awarded the degree. The review process, Prof. McCrudden said, took a year.

Prof. McCrudden said he is “delighted” to receive the DCL. “To get this recognition is pleasing in recognizing past achievement, and encourages me to go further and produce more such work in the future.”

In addition to his appointment at Michigan Law, Prof. McCrudden is Professor of Human Rights and Equality Law at Queens University Belfast, his alma mater. He is on leave from Michigan until fall 2015 while he completes a yearlong fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. His project, “An Integrated Theory of Comparative Human Rights Law,” examines the legal meaning of human rights, their significance in theory and in practice, and the approaches taken by legal institutions designed to protect and advance them.