Annual Academic Achievement Banquet to see Adaptation in Light of the Pandemic


Katie Walsh

The 2020 program for the academic achievement award included musical performances, an appearance from the provost and the distribution of awards to students.

Emily Teixeira

This year, Residential Life and Housing will not be hosting their annual Academic Achievement Banquet in person for COVID-related safety reasons. Instead, the students who would have been honored at the banquet will receive a congratulatory email sometime in early March, along with instructions on when and where they can pick up the gift they would have received at the event. Res Life hopes that, by this time next year, they will be able to host the banquet in person again.

“This has become one of our favorite events, as well as a true campus tradition students look forward to,” says Vincent Birkenmeyer, Interim Director of Res Life.

Prior to the pandemic, Res Life hosted the Academic Achievement Banquet in Gottesman. Students who received 3.85 GPA or higher in the fall, with a cumulative GPA of 3.5, were invited. First year recipients received an over the shoulder bag, second years a padfolio, third years a notebook and pen set, and fourth years a diploma case. All of these prizes were in addition to a framed certificate.

The event allowed each recipient to bring two guests to the ceremony and treated them to dinner and dessert via Chartwells Catering. Moreover, recipients were able to nominate a faculty member for an “Honoring Excellence,” award in the RSVP process.  Last year’s winner was Professor Vyshali Manivannan from the English department.

Now, with the pandemic still posing a safety hazard to students, staff, and faculty, Res Life has had to find new ways to host events and foster a sense of community.

“Our team has worked hard, as have other offices on campus, to pivot programming this year multiple times,” Birkenmeyer says. “Last semester, we tried to do our traditional active programs on zoom. For the most part, however, we did not have great turn out, as students shared they were ‘zoomed-out’ after class.

We took that feedback and changed our residential curriculum syllabus for this semester to include more passive programs, goodie bags we deliver to resident’s doors, and some programs around remembering the legacy of DJ Henry which we are particularly proud of.”

Birkenmeyer encourages residents to reach out to their RAs with any event ideas that they might have.