Honors Program Recognizes Dr. Mary Frances Berry at First Annual ‘An Honorable Life’ Dinner

Dr. Berry meets Honors students
Belmont University's Honors Program recognizes Dr. Mary Frances Berry at Belmont University

Belmont’s Honors Program recently honored Dr. Mary Frances Berry at the first annual “An Honorable Life” dinner in recognition of her leadership, courage and lifelong contributions to civil rights and freedom. Dr. Mary Ellen Pethel, assistant professor of Global Leadership Studies and Honors, presented the award to Berry, who currently serves as a Professor of History and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Inspired by the University’s mission to be “Nashville’s University” and also to empower students to live lives of courage, Belmont’s Honors Program will present an annual award to an individual who exemplifies honor and who has ties to Nashville.  

Dr. Bonnie Smith Whitehouse, director of Honors and professor of English, said, “This award and our time celebrating Dr. Berry is about honor and calling. The theologian Frederick Buechner famously said your calling is the place God calls you to, the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. In the Honors program, we are always trying to empower students to find that sweet spot.”   

“An Honorable Life” is the first interdisciplinary seminar Honors Program students take in their freshman year and poses the question, “What does it mean to live an honorable life?” Assignments and discussions focus on happiness, virtue, ambition, wisdom, struggle, doubt and dreams from philosophical, theological, literary, political, historical and scientific perspectives. The dinner provided Honors Program students and faculty who teach in the program the opportunity to reflect on these questions as a community.