Guidelines for Awarding the Graduate School's Founder's Medal

The Graduate School began awarding a Founder's Medal at the May 2011 Commencement. The Graduate School will award one Founder's Medal per year on a repeating four-year cycle among four broad subject sectors. That is, one Graduate School Founder's Medal will be awarded each year to a Ph.D. student in one of these four sectors: Biological and Biomedical Science; Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science; Humanities; and Social Science and Education. Therefore, one Graduate School Founder's Medal will be awarded to a Ph.D. student in each of the four sectors once every four years. A drawing at the October 12, 2010, meeting of the Graduate Faculty Council determined the order of the awards as follows:

May 2011 Founder's Medal: Biological and Biomedical Science;
May 2012 Founder's Medal: Humanities;
May 2013 Founder's Medal: Social Science and Education;
May 2014 Founder's Medal: Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science.
This order will remain the same in subsequent years. (See this section for lists of programs.)

Selection Process and Eligibility

The Graduate School's Founder's Medal recognizes both individual scholarly accomplishment and the importance of the Ph.D. degree as Vanderbilt's most advanced graduate degree. Therefore, it is expected that the Graduate School's Founder's Medal will be awarded to a recipient of the Ph.D. degree. Each year, the Associate Deans for Graduate Study (or equivalent) in the schools/colleges that support programs in the designated subject sector will convene a Founder's Medal Committee to carry out the competition for that year's Medal. The Committee members will number no more than six and will include those associate deans, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from the Graduate School, and one or more members of the Graduate Faculty, as appropriate. The Committee's tasks include soliciting nominations from the faculty, ensuring that each nominee meets the Graduate School's eligibility criteria (below), and recommending to the Dean of the Graduate School the top-three finalists (rank-ordered), from which the Dean will select that year's Founder's Medal recipient.

Nominees for the Graduate School's Founder's Medal must satisfy at least these criteria:

  1. It must be clear that each nominee will complete the requirements necessary to receive the Ph.D. degree during the academic year in question. For example, to be eligible for the May 2011 Founder's Medal, a graduate student must complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree during the 2010-2011 academic year, in time to qualify for the August 2010, December 2010 or May 2011 graduation dates.
  2. Each nominee must have demonstrated exceptional accomplishment in research or scholarship, as evidenced by appropriate documentation, consistent with Vanderbilt University's highest standards.
  3. The nominee must agree to attend the University's May commencement ceremony to receive the award in person.

With the prior approval of the Dean of the Graduate School, the Founder's Medal Committee may announce additional criteria, as appropriate, at the time nominations are solicited from the faculty. When submitting its recommendations to the Dean, the Committee should include copies of each student's transcript, current CV and any additional materials the Committee used to develop its recommendations.

Programs Included Within the Four Sectors

The boxes below identify the specific Ph.D. programs included within the four major subject sectors referred to in the first section.
Founder's Medal Programs