Awards and Honors

2020-21 Legacy and Leadership winners

Legacy Leadership Awards; background image of colorful geometric shapes [View Image]

View a list of the 2020-21 student winners

Each year the VCU School of Social Work recognizes outstanding students who have contributed leadership and service to the school and/or university, and who have otherwise distinguished themselves through commitment and dedication to a particular area of social work. Honorees are presented with the awards at the school’s annual Legacy and Leadership Awards Mixer.

Dr. Marilyn A. Biggerstaff Fund for Doctoral Student Research

The Dr. Marilyn A. Biggerstaff Fund for Doctoral Student Research was established with a pledged gift from Marilyn A. Biggerstaff, D.S.W. Dr. Biggerstaff is an emerita faculty member at the School of Social Work. The fund will support research in the School of Social Work that strives to make a difference in the lives of persons experiencing poverty.

Robert Green Just Research Award

The Dr. Robert Green Just Research Award, formerly the Just Research Fund, was established by Dr. Robert Green and his wife, Frances. Dr. Green (BS '67, MSW '70). He taught at VCU for 30 years and was awarded the rank of Professor Emeritus upon his retirement. He served as faculty field liaison for the MSW program, as director of the school's PhD program, and was also appointed to the faculties of the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences and to the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine. The Dr. Robert Green Just Research Award is given to Ph.D. and M.S.W. research poster winners at the annual VCU School of Social Work Research Symposium.

Elaine Rothenberg Social Work Award

Each year the VCU School of Social Work honors an outstanding student in the B.S.W., M.S.W. and Ph.D. programs with the Elaine Rothenberg Social Work Award. As the dean of the School of Social Work, Rothenberg exemplified the following characteristics: academic excellence, service to the university, community and profession; and exceptional personal qualities of compassion and leadership. One student from each program is eligible for the Elaine Rothenberg Social Work Award.

David N. Saunders Legislative Award

Each year the VCU School of Social Work honors an outstanding graduating student in the B.S.W. or M.S.W. program with the David N. Saunders Legislative Award. The David N. Saunders Legislative Award was established in honor and memory of David N. Saunders, Ph.D., associate professor of social work, and recognizes Saunders for his commitment to furthering social goals through involvement in the legislative process at all levels of government. Saunders was an active participant in the development of social policy in state and local government, and he was well-known and respected in both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly.

School of Social Work Social Justice Award

The Social Justice Award is given to a B.S.W., M.S.W. or Ph.D. student who has demonstrated a commitment and dedication to the ideals of social justice through his or her activities while a student in the social work program.

School of Social Work Service and Leadership Awards

The School of Social Work requests nominations from students and faculty for determining those graduates in the B.S.W., M.S.W. and Ph.D. programs who have demonstrated leadership and service to the school, the university and the community.

Student Field Impact Award

The purpose of this award is to highlight the impact that a student has had on clients and the community through their fieldwork. This is defined as creating change, gathering resources, and/or providing support for individuals, families, groups, an organization, the community, policy, or any outstanding contribution made by the student as part of the field placement experience. 

Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Membership

Phi Kappa Phi is a national honor society promoting the pursuit of excellence in all academic fields. Founded at the University of Maine in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi recognizes outstanding achievement by students, faculty and others through election to membership. Graduating students with excellent academic credentials and demonstrated leadership qualities are nominated by the School of Social Work for Phi Kappa Phi membership each year.

Phi Alpha National Honor Society for Social Work Students

VCU Chapter/Nu Rho

The purposes of Phi Alpha Honor Society are to provide a closer bond among students of social work and promote humanitarian goals and ideals. Phi Alpha fosters high standards of education for social workers and invites into membership those who have attained excellence in scholarship and achievement in social work. Phi Alpha offers membership to B.S.W. and M.S.W. students, faculty and practitioners. Eligible students will be invited via email to join during the spring semester.

Virginia Commonwealth University
School of Social Work
Academic Learning Commons
1000 Floyd Avenue, Third Floor
Box 842027
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2027

Phone: (804) 828-1030
Fax: (804) 828-0716
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