The Marion Luther Brittain Award is presented each year to two graduating students (one undergraduate and one graduate) from any academic division of the University who are considered to have performed the most “significant, meritorious, and devoted service to Emory University.

Considered the highest honor presented to a student by Emory University, Brittain recognizes two students whose contributions to Emory are outstanding. The award is made under provisions of a gift by the late Dr. M. L. Brittain, former President of Georgia Institute of Technology and alumnus of Emory.


Fall 2023 or spring 2024 graduates are eligible for nomination.
Nomination letters should be submitted to via the nomination portal by Friday, February 16, 2024.

For additional information please call 404-727-7190 or email Sandra Edwards (

Recent Awardees

Marion Luther Brittain 1886C 1928H

Marion Luther Brittain was born in Wilkes County, Georgia, on November 11, 1865, and graduated from Oxford College in 1886. He became principal of Crew Street School in Atlanta and later served as head of the language department at Boys School. In 1898 he pursued his graduate studies at the University of Chicago, and upon his return in 1900 became principal of Fulton County Schools. In 1910 he became Georgia state superintendent of schools. Dedicated to the cause of education, he was famous for standing up to corrupt politicians and was credited with a dramatic improvement in the Georgia school system. In 1922 Brittain because the second Emory alumnus to become president of Georgia School of Technology, now Georgia Tech.

Gentle and well-liked, Brittain accomplished much for the school, including the establishment of an ROTC unit -- the first in the South -- the creation of the School of Aeronautics with a prestigious $300,000 gift from the Guggenheim Foundation, and the addition of a ceramics engineering course. He retired in 1944, was named president emeritus, and wrote a history of the school, The Story of Georgia Tech. He died in 1953.

Emory's highest student award, the Marion Luther Brittain Award is named for Brittain, who in 1942 donated funds to create it. According to a letter dated March 6, 1953, written by then-Emory President Goodrich C. White, "It was his wish to establish an award somewhat similar to the Tech 'T," in recognition of unselfish service to the University." The first Brittain Award was presented in 1948 to undergraduate Henry Franklin Gay, a World War II veteran who founded the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity as a student. Since then, the award has been given yearly, with the exception of 1972 when it was declined. 

Read more about M.L. Brittain

Previous Awardees


1948 - Henry Franklin Gay 49C*
The first Brittain award was presented in 1948 to undergraduate Henry Gay, a veteran of World War II who founded the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity as a student.

1949 - Charles William Landiss Jr. 48C*
Charles Landiss Jr. was a member of the University Chorus, the Glee Club, and Sigma Chi Fraternity. He taught at Emory's Candler School of Theology from 1957 until 1962, and also founded University Heights United Methodist Church in Decatur. After leaving Candler, Landiss went on to become the director of the Wesley Foundation at Georgia Tech and served as the campus minister there until his retirement in 1996. He then joined the staff of Kingswood United Methodist Church in Dunwoody, where he worked until his death in 2002.

1950 - Frank Trifon Vasiloff 50C 52G*
Frank Vasiloff served in the United States Army during World War II before attending Emory. He served from 1943 until 1945 in the 90th Infantry Division and was promoted to sergeant. He served in five campaigns and received both a Purple Heart and the Croix de Guerre from the Luxembourg government. Vasiloff majored in education at Emory and later became a teacher, working in schools in both Georgia and Florida.

1951 - Henry Thompson Malone 49G 52PhD*
Born in 1914 in Albany, Georgia, Henry Malone was a lifelong educator. After receiving graduate degrees from Emory, he taught in high schools in South Carolina and Georgia. He later became a professor at Georgia State University, where he also served as an assistant dean of arts and sciences, director of development, director of alumni, and dean of the School of General Studies. Malone authored two books and served on the Georgia Historical Commission from 1963 to 1973. In addition, he was Georgia District Governor of Kiwanis, an international service organization that strives to improve the quality of life for children around the world.

1952 - Edward Reynolds Wright Jr. 52C 54G*
Edward Wright majored in journalism at Emory. He served as editor of The Emory Wheel and was active in the drama department. He was also a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity. After graduation, Wright earned a doctorate in political science from Duke, and then went on to live in Asia for most of his career. He lived in several Asian countries, including Vietnam and Japan, and taught at a Japanese university. He was also a close friend and fraternity brother of 1953 Brittain Award recipient Arthur Brandenburg.

1953 - Arthur Lewis Brandenburg 52C 55T*
Arthur Brandenburg graduated with a degree in sociology. He earned a master's degree in theology from Union Seminary in New York in 1955, and another from the University of Chicago in 1966. Brandenburg was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity and Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Fraternity. During his time at Emory, he was the editor of the Phoenix, the school magazine, and the manager of the Glee Club, which e took to Europe. Brandenburg went on to become a Methodist preacher and was district superintendent of Philadelphia. He has been a champion of many social justice causes and was on the board of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, which sought to keep welfare reform humane.

1954 - Kenneth F. Murrah 55C 58L*
Kenneth Murrah was surprised to receive the Brittain Award as a junior. He chaired American Red Cross blood drives on campus and was instrumental in achieving increased blood donations. This was especially important because of the increased need for blood during the Korean War. Murrah also served as president of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, the Student Government Association, and Omicron Delta Kappa. He also was a member of the Glee Club. In 1963 he founded a law firm in Winter Park, Florida, specializing in estate planning and trust administration. Murrah has held volunteer and elected positions with the state of Florida, the city of Winter Park, the United Methodist Church, Rollins College, Emory, Alpha Tau Omega, and local cultural and health organizations.

1955 - Jack M. Horowitz 55B*
Jack Horowitz was a member of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, and president of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Fraternity. He was also editor of the Emory yearbook, The Campus. After graduation, Horowitz worked in the securities industry with Wachovia, where he retired as senior vice president. As a Jewish student attending a Methodist-affiliated university, Horowitz said he felt extremely proud to have received the Brittain Award.

1956 - William C. Cromwell 56C*
William Cromwell recalled that his fondest memories of Emory included his extensive leadership experience, rewards fro his athletic competition, and caring and dedicated faculty members. In addition to receiving the Brittain Award, Cromwell also was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame, the Senior Honor Society Phi Beta Kappa, received the McCord Award for athletics, and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Cromwell served in the United States Air Force for four years after graduating from Emory, and then went on to earn a PhD in international relations from American University. After completing his doctorate, Cromwell became a professor and administrator at American University, where he specialized in western European affairs, including U.S.-European relationships and east-West relations, and had interests in the stability of the post-Cold War global environment.

1957 - Lawrence B. Custer 57C*
Lawrence Custer was a lifelong resident of Marietta, Georgia, where he established the law frim of Custer, Hill & Associates. While at Emory, Custer was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Fraternity, and the Senior Honor Society. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School n 1960. He subsequently worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Elbert P. Tuttle, during which time he was involved in the case that resulted in the desegregation of the University of Georgia. He later served as a deputy assistant attorney general, acquiring the land for what is now Interstate 75. Custer served as the president of a number of organizations, including Kiwanis International, the Georgia Bar Association, and the Georgia Legal History Foundation to name a few. He was listed in The Best Lawyers in America from 1991 until his death.

1958 - John Richard Strother Jr. 56C 58L*
While at Emory, John Strother was a member of the Emory Players, the Honor Council, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Fraternity, and the Chi Phi Fraternity. He served as chief judge of the Traffic Court, president of the University Senate, and president of the Student Bar Association. After law school, Strother had a general litigation practice in Atlanta for twenty-seven years. He was a trial lawyer for the Georgia Department of Law, assistant Fulton County Attorney, president of the Lawyers Club of Atlanta, and president of the Old Warhorse Lawyers Club. He was appointed United States Magistrate for the Northern District of Georgia and served in this capacity for seventeen years in Atlanta and Gainesville, retiring as chief magistrate in 2002. 

1959 - Nancy King Scoggins 59C
Nancy Scoggins graduated from Emory with a BA in English. She was the first female recipient of the Brittain Award. While at Emory, she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, the Interfraternity Council, the Intersorority Council, and the Residence Hall Association. Scoggins sits on the board of a school for children with learning disabilities in Richmond, Virginia, where she resides.



1960 - John S. Austin Jr. 60C
After Emory, john Austin went on to earn a master's degree from Middlebury College and a PhD from Cornell University. While at Emory, he was a member of the Senior Honor Society and the Glee Club. Austin was a full-time faculty member at Georgia State University, specializing in German linguistics. He received a merit award from the West German government in 1989.

1961 - Thomas B. Clegg 61C
Thomas Clegg, a nuclear physicist, received his undergraduate degree in physics from Emory and a PhD in physics from Rice University (TX) in 1965. While at Emory, Clegg served on the Student Honor Court, was president of the Emory Christian Association, and served as president of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. After completing his doctorate, Clegg worked at the University of Wisconsin at Madison for three years before joining the physics and astronomy department at UNC-Chapel Hill. Clegg has received several fellowships, including the Woodrow Wilson Graduate Fellowship, the Fulbright Travel Fellowship, and the American Physical Society Fellowship for career excellence. Both of Clegg's parents attended Emory, and his father, Lewis Lamar Clegg, was director of admissions after serving as a faculty member in the Anthropology and Sociology departments.

1962 - David C. Lowance 62C 68MR*
While at Emory, David Lowance was president of the Interfraternity Council and vice president of Phi Delta Theta. After graduating from medical school, Lowance became an internist and kidney specialist, serving as president of the National Kidney Foundation in Georgia. He was also in charge of the transplant center at Piedmont Hospital, and served on the clinical faculty at Emory for more than 30 years. He was a founder and chair of the Lowance Center for Human Immunology at Emory.

1963 - Melinda Whitman Certain 63C 65G
Melinda Certain graduated from Emory with degrees in mathematics. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Delta Sorority, Women's Honor Organization, and a Stipe Scholar. Certain also received the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Fellowship as well as a National Science Foundation Fellowship for her first year of graduate study. She received a PhD in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin in 1974. She married Phillip Certain, also an Emory graduate, in Glenn Memorial Chapel in 1964. Certain taught mathematics at the University of Wisconsin and Lawrence University. She also worked as an analyst for Wisconsin Power and Light Company. At UW she directed the Wisconsin Emerging Scholars Calculus Program, designed to attract more minority and women students to math and science majors. In 2003, she was awarded the University of Wisconsin Chancellor's Hilldale Award for Excellence in Teaching.

1964 - Hoda Levine Blau 64C
Hoda Blau majored in history and was the chairman of the Student Center Board and a member of the Women's Honor Organization. 

1965 - Ben F. Johnson III 65C
Ben Johnson III has been a partner at the Atlanta law firm Alston & Bird since 1976 and served as the firm's managing partner from 1997 to 2008. At Emory, Johnson participated in the Barkley Forum, chaired the College Honor Council, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Fraternity, and DVS honor societies. He was also president of the Interfraternity Council and Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. After graduating from Emory, Johnson received his JD from Harvard University. Noted for his leadership and involvement in educational, civic, and cultural endeavors, Johnson served on Emory's Board of Trustees for 18 years (thirteen of which he served as Board Chair) before stepping down in 2013. Johnson has also served on several other Atlanta-area organization boards including Woodward Academy, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Metro Atlanta YMCA, and the Atlanta Symphony.

1966 - J. Michael Kelly 66C
Michael Kelly joined Cooley Godward Kronish as a partner in October 1987 and works in the San Francisco office as a member of the firm's Bankruptcy and Restructuring practice group. Kelly majored in economics at Emory, where he was a Stipe Scholar. He obtained his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1969. From 1977 to 1979, Kelly served as the counselor and chief of staff to the U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell and from 1979 to 1981 served as counselor to U.S. Secretary of Energy Charles Duncan. Michael serves as a mediator for the Bay Area Bankruptcy Dispute Resolution Program and participates in and is a former director of the Bay Area Bankruptcy Forum. He also has served as a trustee and vice president of the Verde Valley School board of trustees in Sedona, Arizona.

1967 - Judith Ann Turner Foster 68N
Judith Foster graduated from the School of Nursing in 1968. While at Emory, Foster was student body president of the nursing school and served on the University Student Council. Foster helped develop the Nursing Student Study Abroad Program and was the first nursing student to study abroad, traveling to India in 1967. Since graduating, Foster has worked in a private surgical practice, specializing in plastic and reconstructive surgery. 

1968 - Walter M. Deriso Jr. 68C 72L
Walter "Sonny" Deriso is chairman of Atlantic Capital Bank and the former vice chair of the board of Synovus Financial Corporation. After graduating from Emory, he went on active duty in the Army Reserve before returning to Emory Law. While an Emory undergraduate, Deriso was president of the Student Government Association and was elected to Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Fraternity and DVS Honor Societies. Deriso has served on Emory's Board of Trustees since 2002, and was awarded the Emory Medal in 2013.

1969 - Catherine E. Rudder 69C / in the news
Catherine Rudder joined the faculty of the Goerge Mason University School of Public Policy in 2002, after serving as the first female executive director of the American Political Science Association, the world's largest professional organization for the study of politics, since 1981. Rudder has served as chief of staff to former Representative Wyche Fowler Jr. (GA), served on a number of boards (including the National Humanities Alliance, the Consortium of Social Science Associations, the Dirksen Congressional Center, The Carter Center, and Emory, where she has served as secretary of the Board of Trustees and as a member of the Executive, Academic Affairs, and Nominations committees. Additionally, Rudder completed a five-year term in 1998 as the p9olitical science book reviewer for Phi Beta Kappa's Key Reporter and currently serves on Phi Beta Kappa's Committee on the Visiting Scholar Program.



1970 - H. John McDargh 70C

1971 - Charles C. Haynes III 71C 85PhD

1973 - Barbara Anne Jaffe 73C / in the news

1974 - Charles A. Peck 74C

1975 - Debra Lee Kaplan Young 75C 79B 79L

1976 - Jeanette Carpenter Schreiber 76C

1977 - John David Karch 73C 77D*

1978 - S. Wayne Duncan 78C

1979 - James B. O'Neal 77Ox 79C / in the news


1980 - Martha Berg LaVance 77C 80L

1981 - Emory A. Wilkerson 81C 82G

1982 - Steven N. Galyon 78C 82T 94T

1983 - Meghan Howett Magruder 80C 83L

1984 - Paul L. Escamilla 81C 84T 87T

1985 - Laura Hoagland Durudogan 85C

1986 - Lonnie T. Brown Jr. 86C / in the news

1987 - Stephen Randall Scarborough 87C

1988 - Keith Jeffords 88D / in the news

1989 - Laura Hankin-Lewin 89C

1990 - Frederick Ming Chen 90C

1991 - Michele Foust Broemmelsiek 91C / in the news

1992 - Anthony J. Prenni 92C

1993 - C. Todd Vedder 93C

1994 - Bernadette May-Beaver 94C 98T

1995 - Dung Minh Nguyen 95C 01M

1996 - Laura Sawyer Broder 96C

1997 - Emily E. Tripp Jameson 95Ox 97C 97G / in the news

1998 - Adam R. Taylor 98C

1999 - Cameron Welborn-Wilson 99L

2000 - B. Kembrel Jones 00MBA

2001 - Hetal J. Doshi 01C

2002 - Thomas S. Shane 02C

2003 - Melissa M. Roberts 03C / in the news

2004 - Hugo J. Aparicio 04C

2005 - Bharath Parthasarathy 05L

2006 - Feras Akbik 06C

2007 - Arun V. Mohan 06MBA 07M / in the news

2008 - Zain Ahmed 08C

2009 - Nicolai B. Lundy 09C