Honors Given to Faculty and Students 

Recognition of outstanding faculty, staff and students occurs at Commencement.

Baccalaureate Scholastic Honor 

At graduation, special honors are given to baccalaureate candidates who have consistently achieved meritorious scholastic standing as indicated by quality-point ratios of 3.50 or higher*. Students are graduated with honors in the following categories, and this distinction is noted on the individual’s diploma: 

  • Summa cum laude, 3.90 or higher
  • Magna cum laude, 3.75 – 3.89
  • Cum laude, 3.50 – 3.74

Ralph M. Lyon Award for Academic Excellence 

The Ralph M. Lyon Award for Academic Excellence is given each semester to the undergraduate student with the highest G.P.A. for that commencement ceremony. The award is named in honor of Dr. Ralph M. Lyon, a longtime professor, and administrator at the University of West Alabama. 

The Lorrain McIlwain Bell Trustee Professor Award 

The Loraine McIlwain Bell Trustee Professor Award was established in 1996 through an endowment by the late Mrs. Bell’s daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. L.G. Cunningham. 

Mrs. Bell was a native of Choctaw County and a graduate of the University of West Alabama. She taught in the public school system in Choctaw County for several years. After her husband’s death, she completed a correspondence course in nursing and worked with Dr. C. A. Jackson at Hill Hospital in York until she retired at age 72. Her husband was the late Mr. Eulon Clifford Bell. 

The McIlwain Bell Trustee Professor Award, which includes a plaque and a cash stipend, is given each year to a faculty member at the rank of Assistant Professor or above with a minimum of two years of service at UWA who has demonstrated excellence in any or all of the following areas: teaching and advising, scholarship and creative activity, leadership and service. 

Nellie Rose McRory Service Excellence Award 

The Nellie Rose McCrory Service Excellence Award was established in 2012 through an endowment established by the late Dr. McCrory, who graduated from the University of West Alabama with a B.S. in English in 1962 and a M.Ed. in Secondary Education in 1965. In 1972, she received a doctoral degree from the University of Alabama. 

From 1972 until her retirement in 2006, Dr. McCrory served as an instructor of English at Gaston College in North Carolina, later in her career becoming the English Department Chairperson. 

Dr. McCrory was a demanding but caring teacher who made a difference in the lives of generations of students, often sharing with them her love of music, art, museums, and travel. 

The Nellie Rose McCrory Service Excellence Award is presented each year to a member of the UWA faculty who has demonstrated distinguished service in the UWA region and beyond, including institutional, professional, community, and general public service that enhances the quality of life of the citizens whom the University serves and brings honor and distinction to the University. 

Gilbert Award for Outstanding Teaching 

The William E. Gilbert Award recognizes outstanding teaching and excellence in classroom instruction in the undergraduate programs at the University of West Alabama. 

The award was established through an endowed fund established by Mr. William L. Gilbert in memory of his son, Mr. William E. Gilbert, Associate Professor of History at the University of West Alabama from 1970 to 1977. It is supported in part by an endowment by Mr. and Mrs. L. G. Cunningham in memory of Mrs. Cunningham’s mother, Mrs. Loraine McIlwain Bell. 

The selection of the outstanding teacher is made by a student committee whose members are nominated by the Deans and the Chairperson of the Division of Nursing and chosen by the Student Government Association. 

 First awarded in 1984, the Gilbert Award is given annually at Commencement. 

*See the Commencement program and materials for more details on all award qualifications.