Academic Honors

The Honors Program at Sweet Briar was established and continues to evolve in response to the needs of students who demonstrate exceptional initiative, ability, and creativity. The program consists of challenging courses, Summer Research Fellowships, opportunities for independent work, and a series of extracurricular activities.

Honors Seminars — Sweet Briar integrates the Honors Program into the existing curriculum to engage particularly motivated students in more ambitious, innovative academic work. The faculty develops new, interdisciplinary Honors Seminars each year. By student request, individual or small group tutorials called Honors Variants may be attached to existing courses, allowing participants to devise studies geared toward their specific interests and talents. In courses with multiple sections, one section may be offered as an Honors Section for qualified students.

The Honors Summer Research Program — Summer Research Fellowships support a select group of students from across the disciplines to conduct independent research under the supervision of a faculty member for an 8-week period during the summer.

Honors Thesis — The thesis provides the honors student with the opportunity to design and complete a long-term research project in her major department. The thesis is the culmination of an honors course of study at Sweet Briar. Working closely with faculty advisors, students begin their research in the spring of their junior year, completing it over the course of three semesters.

Honors Activities — The Honors Program sponsors events throughout the year, includ- ing a colloquium series featuring Sweet Briar faculty, visiting lecturers from other campuses, and informal discussions; trips to nearby plays, festivals, and cultural events; and an annual bus trip to Washington, D.C. Many events are initiated by honors students, and most are open to the community, making the program an integral part of life at Sweet Briar.

Honors students make use of the computers, audio-visual facilities, workspaces, and lounge located in the W.M. Keck Foundation Honors Center. The center also contains an office for an Honors Fellow, a distinguished recent Ph.D. in the humanities. A more detailed description of the Honors Program is available from thedirector of the Honors Program or from the Office of the Dean. Program requirements and this year’s course offerings are included in this catalog. See Honors Program in the Courses of Instruction.


Latin Honors
General Latin honors of three ranks—cum laude, 3.4 grade point average; magna cum laude, 3.6 grade point average; summa cum laude, 3.9 grade point average—are awarded to members of the graduating class on the basis of their academic record. Candidates under the Honors Program may receive departmental citations: with honors, high honors, or highest honors.

Dean’s List
At the end of each fall and spring term, the Dean prepares a list of students who have shown outstanding ability and achievement in the work of the term, including a 3.5 grade point average with a minimum of 12 graded academic hours.

First-Year Honors List
First-year students who achieve an outstanding record, including a 3.3 grade point average with a minimum of 12 graded academic hours in the fall term, are recognized in January.

Emilie Watts McVea Scholars
Each year the College recognizes academic achievement by conferring upon the highest-ranking member of each class the honorary title of Emilie Watts McVea Scholar, a designation which bears the name of the second president of Sweet Briar College. In order to be eligible, a student must have earned at least 24 credit hours at Sweet Briar College by the end of the first year, or at least 56 credit hours at Sweet Briar by the end of the sophomore year, or at least 60 credit hours at Sweet Briar by the end of the junior year.

Phi Beta Kappa Society
The Theta of Virginia chapter was founded at Sweet Briar College in 1950. With fewer than 250 chapters nationwide, membership is highly selective. Candidates must be completing at least two years of residence at the College. Grade point average is an important, but not the sole, criterion for election. Weight is given to recommendations from faculty and to the breadth of each candidate’s program as shown by the number and the variety of courses taken outside her major. Also important are the balance and proportion in a candidate’s degree program as a whole. Finally, candidates must demonstrate a knowledge of mathematics and of a foreign language at least minimally appropriate for liberal arts education.

Alpha Lambda Delta
Alpha Lambda Delta is an honor society that recognizes academic excellence during a student’s first year in college. The purpose of Alpha Lambda Delta is to promote a continued high standard of learning and to encourage superior academic achievement. A chapter was established at Sweet Briar in 1991. To be eligible, a student must have earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher in her first academic year.

Alpha Psi Omega
In 2001, the Alpha Delta Beta chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, the National Honorary Dramatic Fraternity, was established at Sweet Briar College to honor outstanding students in Theatre Arts.

Delta Phi Alpha
The Lambda Eta Chapter of Delta Phi Alpha, the National German Honor Society, was founded in 1951. The Society seeks to recognize excellence in the study of German and to provide an incentive for higher scholarship by promoting the study of the German language, literature, and civilization and emphasizing those aspects of German life and culture which contribute to man’s eternal search for peace and truth.

Eta Sigma Phi
Eta Sigma Phi is the national honorary society in classics, founded in 1914. The chapter at Sweet Briar College was established in 1995. The Greek letters Eta Sigma Phi stand for The Society of Those Who Love the Classical Tradition. The organization exists to recognize outstanding achievement in the study of Greek and Latin languages, and to foster a spirit of friendship among students of the classics.

Iota Sigma Pi
Iota Sigma Pi, the National Honor Society for Women in Chemistry, was founded in 1902 at the University of California, Berkeley. Iota Sigma Pi’s mission is to promote professional development and personal growth of women in chemistry. The Lanthanum Chapter, the 48th chapter of Iota Sigma Pi, was founded in May 1998. Members currently come from three of the Lynchburg area colleges, Sweet Briar College, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, and Lynchburg College.

Omicron Delta Epsilon
The Sweet Briar chapter of Omicron Delta Epsilon, a National Honor Society in Economics, was established in 2005. The objectives of Omicron Delta Epsilon are recognition of scholastic attainment and the honoring of outstanding achievements in economics and the establishment of closer ties between students and faculty in economics within and among colleges and universities.

Phi Alpha Delta
The Omega Mu Chapter of the Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity was established at Sweet Briar College in 1995. It is the first undergraduate chapter established at a women’s college. Its purpose is to promulgate the study of law and politics in American society. Chapter members have served as volunteers in the Amherst Youth Service Project and in the Amherst County School district.

Pi Delta Phi
In April 2004, the new Nu Mu chapter of Pi Delta Phi, the National Collegiate French Honor Society, was installed at Sweet Briar College. Students are selected for membership in Pi Delta Phi based on their academic record in their study of French. The society seeks to increase the knowledge and appreciation of Americans for the cultural contributions of the French speaking world: to stimulate and encourage French cultural activities.

Psi Chi
Psi Chi is the national honor society in psychology, founded in 1929 for the purpose of encouraging, stimulating, and maintaining excellence in scholarship and advancing the science of psychology. Membership is open to Sweet Briar students who have registered for major or minor standing in psychology, have completed eight semester credit hours in psychology, are ranked in the upper 35 percent of their class in general scholarship, and have earned an average grade of “B” in psychology courses.

Sigma Delta Pi
A Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the national Spanish honor society, was established at Sweet Briar in 1990. The purpose of the Society is to encourage excellence in the study of Spanish and to encourage an increased awareness of and involvement in the study of the Spanish language and the cultures and literatures of Hispanic peoples. The society offers a number of competitive scholarships and awards and encourages students to contribute to its newsletter. New student members are selected annually based on their overall academic record and a demonstrated interest in the study of Spanish.

Upperclass Awards and Prizes

The Academy of American Poets Prize is awarded to the student submitting the best poem in the annual competition. The family of Jean Taylor Meyer has endowed this prize at Sweet Briar College and the prize has been renamed “The Jean Taylor Meyer Memorial Poetry Prize”.

The Alpha Lambda Delta Award is given to the graduating Alpha Lambda Delta member who has the highest cumulative grade point average at the end of the first grading period of the senior year.

The Alumna Daughter Award was established in 1974 by the Executive Board of the Alumnae Association to honor an alumna daughter in either the junior or senior class who has demonstrated at Sweet Briar the traditions of sound learning and social responsibility which have characterized the alumnae of the College since its founding.

The Mary Kendrick Benedict Award was established in 1945 by former students, colleagues, and other friends of Dr. Mary Kendrick Benedict, the first president of Sweet Briar College, to honor an upperclass student of high academic standing and personal integrity who has shown a purpose for service in her college experience.

The “Big Sister” Award, donated by Sweet Briar alumna who teach in the Tye River Elementary School in Nelson County, is given to a member of the senior class who has shown a commitment to community service by contributing to the educational and emotional growth of the children at Tye River Elementary School. The recipient gives valuable time and makes a positive difference in the lives of these young people.

The Myron B. Bloy, Jr. Service Fellowship was established by friends of the late Chaplain Bloy to enable a current Sweet Briar student to work in a service-oriented, off-campus situation in this country or abroad.

The Jean Besselievre Boley Fund was established by the parents and husband of Jean Besselievre Boley ’35 to encourage interest in creative writing. The fund provides a prize for the student submitting the best short story entered in the annual competition. It may also provide a grant-in-aid for a junior or senior with demonstrated ability in creative writing who requires financial assistance.

The Laura Buckham Book Award was established by the friends of the late Laura Buckham, professor of French at Sweet Briar for 32 years. The award is presented to a rising junior who is a French major in recognition of excellence in French.

The Marcia Capron Award was established by John D. Capron in honor of his wife. This award is given to a senior for excellence in French.

The Julia Sadler de Coligny Award provides an annual prize to outstanding majors in music and English in alternate years.

The Penelope Czarra Award was established by the parents of Penelope Lane Czarra ’75 to honor the senior who best combines scholastic achievement, student leadership, and effective contributions to the improvement of the quality of student life at Sweet Briar.

The Juliet Halliburton Davis Award recognizes an outstanding major in environmental science and in environmental studies for their academic achievement, leadership, and service to the Environmental Studies department.
The Judith Molinar Elkins Prize, was established by her family in honor of Professor Elkins, Professor of Mathematics. This award recognizes the outstanding achievements of a senior majoring in the mathematical, physical, or biological sciences, actively participating in the college community, and demonstrating the ideals and dedication to learning exemplified by the life of Professor Elkins.

The Helen McClure Gager Award in Chemistry was established by the husband, family, and friends of Helen Gager, associate professor of chemistry, who taught at Sweet Briar from 1976 to 1980. The award recognizes a member of the Sweet Briar community—student, faculty, or other—who has done distinguished work in the field of chemistry.

The German Embassy Book Prize is awarded at commencement to a student who has an excellent academic record and has made significant contributions to the German Program at Sweet Briar.

The Gill Scholarship, funded by Betty Byrne Gill Ware ’55, in honor of her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Elbyrne Grady Gill, is presented to a rising junior or senior for their achievements in the environmental sciences or studies program and their interest in protecting the environment.

The Goethe-Institut Buchpreis, provided by the Goethe-Institut in Washington, is awarded at commencement to an outstanding senior majoring in German or German Studies.

Nicole Greenleaf Service in Education Award, named in honor of Nicole Clara Michelle Greenleaf, Class of 2003, honors a senior in the Teacher Education program who has demonstrated scholastic achievement and whose volunteer service in support of a struggling student in a local public school has been an inspiration to that student’s school community.

The Connie M. Guion Award was established in honor of Professor Guion by Mr. and Mrs. J. Wilson Newman and their daughters, Clare Newman Blanchard ’60, and Mildred Newman Thayer ’61. It is given to a member of the graduating class “for excellence as a human being and as a member of the College.”

The Milan Hapala Scholarship is awarded to a junior majoring in International Affairs or Government and wishes to study in the Czech Republic.

The Kathryn Haw Prize in Art History was established by the Art History Department with support provided by Kathryn Haw ’92 in recognition of the quality of education she received. It is awarded to a graduating art history major who has demonstrated excellence by maintaining a grade point average of at least 3.5 in her major.

The James Lewis Howe Award in Chemistry, sponsored by the Blue Ridge Section of the American Chemical Society, is awarded to a senior for excellence in chemistry. This award is presented to the recipient in April at a meeting of the Blue Ridge Section of the American Chemical Society.

Kenmore Merit Scholarship is awarded to a junior or senior who has maintained a 3.3 grade point average and who is recognized by the faculty of the government program for academic excellence.

L’Alliance Française Prize, established by the Lynchburg, VA, chapter, is presented to a senior nominated by the Modern Languages and Literatures Department for excellence in French language and literature.

The George H. Lenz Excellence in Physics Award is given to a senior physics major or minor who has shown dedication and success in the pursuit of learning physics. The winner of this award excels both in theoretical and experimental physics and exemplifies Professor Lenz’s excitement for understanding physics. The naming of this award honors Professor Lenz’s significant contributions to the physics department, where he taught from 1970 to 2004.

Rebecca Tomlinson Lindblom Award, which was established by Reverend William L. Lindblom in honor of his wife, is given to a student or students who demonstrate academic excellence in philosophy and religion as well as in the application of their principles to daily living.

The Manson Memorial Alumnae Award was established by the alumnae in memory of N. C. Manson, Jr., to give recognition each year to an upperclass student of high academic standing who shows qualities of leadership and makes a constructive contribution to student life.

The Mathematical Sciences Award is awarded to a graduating Mathematical Sciences major who has demonstrated excellence by achieving at least a 3.3 in mathematical courses and in one or more of the following ways: performance in the classroom, academic activities outside the classroom, service to the department, leadership on campus, and service to the local community.

Jessica Steinbrenner Molloy Award honors an outstanding senior in theatre arts, chosen by the faculty of that department.

Irene Mitchell Moore Scholarship, established by Irene Mitchell Moore, is given to benefit students of the Center for Civic Renewal who intend to pursue careers in public service with a goal of fostering the habits of effective citizenship engagement.

The Lawrence Nelson Award was established in 1971 in memory of Professor Nelson, who taught English at Sweet Briar from 1946 to 1970. It is awarded to a senior chosen by the Department of English for general excellence in English.

The Pauline Roberts Otis Award was established in memory of Mrs. Otis by her daughter, Susan Otis Thompson ’52, who studied in Paris with the Sweet Briar Junior Year in France. The prize is awarded each year to the senior student of highest academic distinction having been a member of the Junior Year in France program.

The W. Edward Overly Award was established by W. Edward Overly, parent of Lynda ’64. It is awarded to a senior who has demonstrated scholarly achievement in Spanish.

Outstanding Scholar in Education Award is given in recognition to young women in Virginia colleges who have completed the teacher preparation programs in an exemplary fashion. It is given to advance the professional interest and position of women in education and to honor women who have given or who evidence potential for distinctive service in any field of education. The award is given by Delta Kappa Gamma, a national honor sorority for leading women in education.

The Everingham Rickards and Captain Garrett V. S. Rickards Award was established in 1974 by Frances Murrell Rickards ’10, in memory of her son, who died in World War II, and her husband. This award is given to one or more members of the rising sophomore class who best demonstrate potential for leadership, academic excellence, and community involvement, which have distinguished the College throughout its history.

The Shakespeare Prize is presented to the student who demonstrates excellence in one or both of the upper-level Shakespeare courses.

Mary MacKintosh Sherer Merit Scholarship, established by friends of Mary MacKintosh Sherer, is awarded to a rising junior who is a leader and a scholar and who demonstrates the outgoing and cheerful qualities long associated with Mary MacKintosh Sherer.

Sweet Briar Fine Arts Scholarship is given in recognition to the senior who best shows great promise as an artist and a scholar.

The Anne Gary Pannell Taylor Award in history, honoring the fifth president of the College, is presented to a senior history major who has achieved the highest cumulative grade point average.

The Lucile Barrow Turner Award is awarded to a student or students majoring in music or in drama to provide scholarship assistance.

The Walker Family Award was established in 1983 by alumnae and friends of the Walker family, whose home near Sweet Briar was a center of hospitality for many years. The award is presented to a senior of above-average academic standing who best possesses the spirit of the Walkers: a cheerful, positive disposition, showing in her relationships warmth, generosity, and humility.

The Leigh Woolverton Prize for Excellence in the Visual Arts was established in memory of Leigh Woolverton ’82, by her mother, family, and friends.

Graduate Fellowship
The Anne Gary Pannell Taylor Graduate Fellowship in History, honoring the fifth president of the College, was established by Dorothy Stimpson, visiting professor of history at Sweet Briar in 1956. The fellowship, to encourage high standards of scholarship in history, is awarded to an outstanding senior history major who plans graduate study.