The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation has selected Methodist University to award Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Mary Mildred Sullivan medallions and certificates beginning at the May 2021 commencement ceremony.
The University will also house a permanent plaque where the names of the recipients will be added annually.
“It is a tremendous honor for Methodist University to join the ranks of other distinguished universities and colleges that are authorized to present the Sullivan Award,” said Methodist University President Stanley T. Wearden.
“This will become one of our highest distinctions for students, an honor that recognizes the well-rounded student: academically strong, meaningfully engaged in the community, driven by a commitment to putting others before themselves. These are the qualities to which we aspire. Our mission statement commits Methodist University to truth, virtue, justice, and love, which correspond well with the goals of the Sullivan Foundation. This award gives Methodist the opportunity to recognize members of our university community who best exemplify these values.”
The medallions are awarded to college students and members of the college community who have demonstrated noble character and have acted as humble servants by serving those around them. Rev. Kelli Taylor, Methodist University’s vice president of Religious Life and Community Engagement, received a medallion in 1989 when studying at Converse College.
“Receiving the Sullivan medallion moves beyond recognition and joins recipients to a community of scholars who value the ideals of heart, mind, and conduct as evince of a spirit of love for and helpfulness to humanity,” said Taylor. “Nobility of character, a criterion that the Sullivan Foundation defines as ‘when one goes outside the narrow circle of self-interest and begins to spend himself for the interests of mankind,’ is critical to a society immersed in conversations of racial justice, love for neighbor, and unity.”
Notable recipients include former First Lady Elanor Roosevelt, TV personality Mr. Fred Rogers, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and tennis star Betty Pratt.
The Sullivan Foundation was established in 1934 and began awarding service-based scholarships to deserving students while establishing endowments at certain schools within its network. Its roots go back nearly 80 years earlier, when Algernon Sydney Sullivan himself was a young lawyer in Indiana. He used his legal talents and personal wealth to help those in trouble in his community, building a reputation for taking on clients who could pay him little or nothing when he believed their cause was just. When Algernon and his wife Mary Mildred Sullivan moved to New York in 1856, they remained dedicated to the cause of helping people in trouble. A believer in equality for all, Algernon also sponsored the first African American member of the New York Bar Association.
The honor that Algernon would have appreciated the most was the one he received when the New York Southern Society — an organization he himself founded — established the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 1890. The award was created to recognize college students in the South for “excellence of character and service to humanity.” Algernon and Mary’s only son, George, continued and cemented the Sullivans’ legacy when, in 1934, he created the Sullivan Foundation to ensure the continued existence of the awards. The Foundation remains as strong as ever today, building a legacy of service, courage, and character.
Methodist University is an independent, four-year institution of higher education with approximately 2,000 students from across the U.S. and more than 70 countries. Methodist University offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs (including doctoral-level options) on campus and online.