Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. William Van Davidson ’62
2019 winner Dr. William Van Davidson ’62 and President Hass

Dr. William Van Davidson ’62 received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Rhodes, a master’s degree in geography from The University of Memphis, and a doctorate in geography from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. After a few years of undergraduate teaching at Arkansas State University in the 1970s, Davidson landed a position at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. During his tenure in LSU’s geography and anthropology department, he served as department chair for three terms, won a Fulbright Research Scholarship in 1991 and a Distinguished Faculty Award in 2002, and was recognized in Rolling Stone for his Geography of Jimmy Buffett course.

Devoted to field studies, Davidson has traveled extensively in Latin America, conducting research for his many publications and leading student field research. In 2011, the Geographical Review described him as “the leading historical-cultural geographer of Central America.” After his retirement from LSU in 2002, Davidson researched and published a comprehensive historical atlas of Honduras that is, as one reviewer put it, “an outstanding piece of scholarship that only a lifetime of research and reflection could have produced.” 


Established in 1983, the Distinguished Alumnus/a Award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has brought honor to Rhodes through extraordinary achievement in his or her profession and community.  Recipients enter the Alumni Hall of Fame, which is located outside of Hardie Auditorium in Southwestern Hall.  The Distinguished Alumnus/a Award is presented at the Annual Convocation of the Rhodes College Alumni Association during Homecoming each October,

Eligibility and Nominations

All living alumni who are members of a class that graduated at least 10 years prior to the nomination date are eligible, with the exception of:

- Members of the Rhodes Board of Trustees

- Current faculty and staff

- Members of the Alumni Executive Board

- Recipients of a Rhodes honorary degree

Nominees for the BSA Distinguished Alumni Award will also be considered for the Distinguished Alumnus/a Award. Nominations are invited from any Rhodes alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents or friends of the college. You can make your nomination today by filling out the online form on the front page.


Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

2018 Dr. Herbert Hill ’67

2017 Dr. Joe McCord ’66

2016  Mike Cody ’58

2015  Vicki Gilmore Palmer '75

2014  Mary Frances Files Silitch '57

2013  Harry L. Swinney '61

2012  Sidonie Sansom '82

2011  Brian R. Wamboff '96

2010  Dr. William O. Coley ’50 

2009  Raymond E. Bye, Jr. ’66

          Jocelyn D. Wurzburg ’62

2008  Robert S. Edington ’50

2007  Martha Ellen Maxwell ’51

          Robert H. Crumby ’53

2006  William Cleage Threlkeld ’53

2005  Jason Turnbow Pettigrew ’96

          Louis Ruffin Pounders ’68

2004  Ray U. Tanner ’54

2003  Katherine Hinds Smythe ’53

          William Hamilton Smythe ’52

2002  Margaret Rose Gladney ’67

          Sidney Strickland ’68

2001  W. Henry Mosley ’55 

          R. Susan Wood ’70

2000  Jacquelyn Dowd Hall ’65

1999  Arthur L. Kellermann ’76

1998  Pauline Jones Hord ’29

1997  C. Stratton Hill, Jr. ’50

1996  William G. Mankin ’62

1995  Richard B. Dixon ’50

1994  James T. Robertson ’53

1993  James H. Fall, III ’65

1992  Mary Jane Smalley Roberts ’58

1991  Charles J. Ping ’51

1990  S. Shepard Tate ’39

1989  Susan Burnside Fleming ’73

1988  John B. Ricker, Jr. ’38

1987  J. Thayer “Toto” Houts ’37

          James G. Hughes ’32

1986  Ada Jane Walters ’56

          J. Russell Perry ’33

1985  Elder L. Shearon, Jr. ’42

          Margaret Boisen Nash ’50

          Jere B. Nash, Jr. ’50

1984  Judith Deavenport Mitchener ’56

          Steven J. Schmidt, Jr. ’72

          Robert K. Armstrong ’37

1983  Lewis R. Donelson ’38

          James F. Gladney, Jr. ’38