First announced in the 175th anniversary commemorative issue of Boldly Baldwin and again at the All-Alumni Homecoming last month, President Pamela Fox will confer upon all graduates the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for collective dedication at MBU’s 175th Commencement on May 21.
“The passion and commitment of our alumni have and will carry us forward,” Fox wrote in her magazine message, highlighting moment’s throughout the university’s history in which alumni played a significant role in helping secure its future: From alumna Mary Julia Baldwin’s decision to assume co-leadership with Agnes McClung in 1863 to the Alumnae Association adopting four-year baccalaureate status in 1923 to alumnae who remained steadfastly committed to the college in the early 1950s when there was pressure from the Synod of Virginia to merge with Hampden-Sydney.
It is only the second time in the institution’s history in which a president has honored alumni in this manner. According to Mary Baldwin historian Pat Menk, President L. Wilson Jarman presented the non-student Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at the college’s centennial celebration in 1942 to “all the alumnae,” specifically recognizing their generous contributions and long struggle to erect a building to honor William Wayt King, Mary Baldwin’s beloved business manager.
The New York Southern Society established the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards in 1925 in memory of Sullivan, a southerner who became a prominent lawyer, businessman, and philanthropist in New York in the late 19th century. The society and carefully selected colleges and universities jointly arrange for the issue of medallions. The award seeks to perpetuate the excellence of character and humanitarian service of Sullivan by recognizing and honoring such qualities in others.
It is one of the highest honors that Mary Baldwin University bestows.
The plaque commemorating the honor will be kept at Mary Baldwin’s newly renovated Alumnae House.