Honors & Awards
"The history department at SUNY Potsdam not only prepares its students for a career in history, but any career that requires strong critical thinking and writing skills. The faculty and staff are amazing, and they go to great lengths to help students to succeed. I am extremely grateful for my time studying history at SUNY Potsdam and for the professors who make the department so successful."
~ Amy James, History Major Class of 2016
The History Department offers several awards for history students.
Departmental scholars are selected annually by the History Department faculty from junior and senior history majors with grade point averages of 3.25 or above. The number of departmental scholars is based on the number of junior and senior majors. Departmental scholars are recognized with a certificate at the Honors Convocation near the end of spring semester.
The F. Roger Dunn Memorial Essay Award is awarded for an outstanding paper submitted in a departmental seminar. The award commemorates the former chair of the Social Studies Department who served from 1941 to 1964.
The Ilse J. Shaw History Award is awarded to the senior history major with the best scholarship and highest cumulative grade point average in history courses during his or her undergraduate career.
The Robert L. Briggs Award is for the outstanding performance by a freshman or sophomore in an American history survey course during the preceding calendar year. The award was established in honor of Dr. Robert L. Briggs, a valued member of the history faculty from 1961 to his retirement in 1985.
The Walter L. Wakefield Award is for the outstanding performance by a freshman or sophomore in a European history survey course during the preceding calendar year. The award honors Dr. Walter L. Wakefield, European historian with the Department from 1948 to 1976 and sometime chair of the department.
The Robert and Katherine Briggs Scholarship is awarded to a student, preferably from St. Lawrence County, who is majoring in history and who can be expected to achieve an average of 3.25 in history courses and 3.0 overall. The scholarship is renewable for each year that the student remains a history major in good standing, maintaining an average of at least 3.25 in courses counting toward the history major and 3.0 overall. Dr. Robert L. Briggs was a valued member of the history faculty from 1961 to his retirement in 1985.
The Father James Pennock Scholarship is awarded to the outstanding junior history major based on the student's overall GPA and GPA in history, and the department's knowledge of the student. The scholarship was established by the wife of the former priest of Potsdam's Trinity Episcopal Church and mayor of Potsdam.
The John F. Schwaller Award is for the outstanding performance by a freshman or sophomore in a world history course during the preceding calendar year. The award has been established in honor of Dr. John F. Schwaller, colonial Latin American historian, who served as the college president from 2006 to 2013.
Phi Alpha Theta, founded in 1921 nationally, is the international honor society in history. The local chapter is Alpha Beta Theta. To be eligible for membership, an undergraduate student must have completed at least twelve hours in history, with a history GPA of 3.1 and an overall GPA of 3.0.