By Jaci Schneider, Staff Writer
The university will honor 50 seniors for academic achievement as University Scholars Thursday in a special Chapel ceremony in Chapel on the Hill.
The title of University Scholar is the highest academic honor after valedictorian and salutatorian, said Craig Churchill, library theologian and chair of the subcommittee of the faculty senate.
Each department can nominate any eligible student for the award. One student from each department is awarded the honor as well as any additional exceptional nominees.
“It’s certainly an honor just to be nominated,” Churchill said.
To be nominated, the student must have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher and must have completed 90 hours by the end of last fall semester. A faculty member in the student’s department had to write a one-page letter of recommendation to nominate the student. Nominations were received on behalf of 56 students.
For their achievement, the students will be given a certificate and a medallion and will also be recognized at graduation as a University Scholar.
In the Chapel service, Dr. Paul Morris, professor of physics and last year’s Trustees Award for Outstanding Teacher of the Year, will be the speaker, and Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, provost, will present the awards.
Although the university has recognized University Scholars since about 1995, Churchill said not many students are aware of the honor.
“It was a surprise; I know nothing about this,” said Erin Wilson, senior physics major from Lakewood, Wash., and recipient of the honor. “But I was excited because there weren’t any fees or dues to pay.”
Wilson has a 4.0 GPA and is involved in Service Action Leadership Team, society of physics students and national physics honor society, and she studied abroad in Oxford, England, last semester.
“The Physics Department really encourages female scholars and is really supportive,” she said. “I’m going to hang my certificate in my dental office some day.”