Home / News / News and Events / Professor Donka Minkova was Conferred a Doctor Honoris Causa Degree by Sofia University

Professor Donka Minkova was Conferred a Doctor Honoris Causa Degree by Sofia University

In a solemn ceremony at Aula magna of Sofia University Professor Donka Minkova of UCLA, USA, was conferred a Doctor honoris causa degree by Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”.

The proposal for the conferral of the honorary degree by the oldest and most highly prestigious academic institution in this country came from the Faculty of Contemporary and Classical Philology of the University and comes as a recognition of Professor Minkova’s remarkable scientific achievements in the domain of linguistics and as a tribute to her contribution in the implementation of the research exchange between Sofia University and prestigious world universities as shown in the support given to Ph D students, at conferences and in work on projects.


The ceremony was presided by Professor Dr Habil Anastas Gerdzhikov, Rector of Sofia University, Professor Dr Milena Popova, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Classical and Contemporary Philology, faculty, students and relatives of Professor Minkova.

Professor Dr Milena Popova briefly introduced the oeuvres of Professor Donka Minkova.

Professor Donka Minkova was born in Sofia and read English at Sofia University. She was a lecturer at the Department of English Philology (presently a Department of English and American Studies) from 1969 till 1982. In 1975 she started delivering the course in Historical Grammar of the English Language and channeled her scientific efforts in the domain of historical phonology. Her Ph D thesis was on “Vowel Lengthening in Middle English”.

Professor Donka Minkova has been lecturing in history of English at UCLA since 1983. In 1992 she was given the professorial chair of the English Language at the Department of English at UCLA, and in 2011 she was awarded the highest academic title of distinguished professor.


Professor Donka Minkova has served as Vice-Chair and Chair of the UCLA CAP; Vice-Chair and Chair of the system-wide UCAP of Berkeley, Davis, Merced, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside San Francisco, Santa Cruz; Vice-chair and Chair of the UCLA Council on Research; Executive Committee Member and Vice-President of SGL; she has also served as Associate Dean of Humanities at UCLA.

Professor Donka Minkova is member of the editorial board of a number of prestigious scientific journals and series, author of five monographs, and her scientific articles are more than 110. She has participated actively in many international fora and has established herself as a leading specialist of world caliber in the domains of historical phonology and metrics of English.

Professor Minkova has never ceased cooperating with her Bulgarian colleagues using her reputation in the world scientific community.


Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov, Rector of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” conferred the high honorary degree on Professor Donka Minkova. The latter expressed her deep gratitude for the honor bestowed on her.

Professor Minkova thanked the Rector of the University, Professor Madeleine Danova, Dean of the Faculty of Classical and Contemporary Philology, and her colleagues from the Department of English and American Studies. Professor Minkova stressed that she had made her pioneer steps in the domain of philology at Sofia University and had had both the pleasure and luck of working with eminent specialists in the field: her first teacher in English was Theodora Atanasova; she was taught by and subsequently worked with Docent Maria Rankova, Professor Andrey Danchev, and Professor Marco Mincoff. Professor Minkova remarked that without the solid academic background which she had received at the University she would not have been able to move ahead and become a scholar. She expressed her hope that the celebration would be part of renewed professional contacts and future scientific exchange.


“My joy of being in Sofia, in this very building, in this hall has been doubled because it is shared with Associate Professor Natalia Minkova, with my friends and relatives, both professional and non-professional. Without you this event would not have been what it is,“ Professor Donka Minkova pointed out.

In her academic lecture she tried to answer the rhetorical question “What can early versification tell us about the history of the language?” and sketched out a broad framework where she placed two revealing examples from the history of English. She noted that she had been led by a principle formulated by Walter Benjamin that if we could not identify the images and the sounds of the past as an essential part of the present, then, there was the danger that the former might become irretrievably lost.“


In her words one of the many ways to span a bridge between the past and the present is through verbal art, through the poetic creativity of our predecessors. Professor Minkova said that in our daily lives we hardly ever think why the old forms of versification may arouse our interest today and noted that in her academic lecture she would do her best to reveal the labyrinth of English versification, and the reasoning and the results will come to prove why such research was highly relevant nowadays.