Sullivan Foundation Names Mary Baldwin First Partner University

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation has named Mary Baldwin University a Social Impact Campus, together with Campbell University in North Carolina. This first-ever designation by the foundation is a recognition of shared values, and puts a seal of approval on MBU’s strong commitment to community service and social entrepreneurship. 

“We’re proud that the Sullivan Foundation has designated MBU as an official partner campus,” said Pamela R. Fox, MBU president. “The foundation has shown our university unflagging support for many years, and we’re excited to work with them in finding new ways to help our students prepare to meet the world’s challenges.”

The Social Work Club helps serve Thanksgiving dinner every year at the Valley Mission for individuals struggling with homelessness. The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation recently recognized MBU with a special designation for its commitment to service and civic engagement.

Similar missions drive both Mary Baldwin and the Sullivan Foundation: through events, programs, and scholarships, the foundation inspires young people to put service above self-interest, while MBU students gain the tools to become leaders of productive change in their professions and communities. 

MBU awards the Sullivan Scholarship annually to a student with impressive character, integrity, and commitment to serving others. The foundation redesigned its scholarship program last year to more effectively support service-minded students, and now provides an annual $5,000 scholarship for an incoming freshman.

The first recipient of the newly redesigned Sullivan Scholarship this fall is Courtney Rosenstadt ’23 — who is part of MBU’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted and is pursuing an independent major in environmental policy, for her work addressing social and global issues — including environmental and climate change activism and serving as a volunteer tutor at local schools. 

“I’m so grateful for receiving the Sullivan Foundation Scholarship,” said Rosenstadt, who’s from a small town in southern Maryland. “It feels like the work I’ve done in the past has been validated and appreciated, and it continues to inspire me to help my community as much as I can.”

The foundation will also increase the scholarship fund every year, so that in the fourth year and beyond, MBU will be able to award $20,000 in grants to support socially engaged students. 

Pictured at the recent Climate Strike in Washington, D.C., first-year Courtney Rosenstadt (left) received a $5,000 scholarship from the Sullivan Foundation this fall for her work addressing social and global issues. A previous Sullivan Faculty Fellow, Nell Desmond (right), MBU’s director for the office of personal and professional development, designed a program that connected MBU students with local middle schoolers to learn about social innovation and entrepreneurship.

Since 2010, more than 70 MBU students have participated in the Ignite Retreat — a three day-conference in which participants work collaboratively to generate ideas about making a positive difference in the world — and other programming sponsored by the Sullivan Foundation. Five faculty and staff have also held the position of Sullivan Faculty Fellows at MBU, encouraging the growth of social entrepreneurship in the classroom and beyond.  

MBU’s association with the Sullivan Foundation started in 1933 when Mary Baldwin first presented the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award, recognizing both a senior student and a member of the university community for distinguished records of service. Given annually at Commencement, it remains one of the university’s highest honors. 

In the mid-1800s, lawyer Algernon Sydney Sullivan and his wife, Mary, devoted themselves to helping those who were less fortunate where they lived in New York City. After his death, the New York Southern Society (a social organization founded by Sullivan) decided the best way to honor Sullivan would be to honor others, so they created in 1890 the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for students with distinguished records of service. The Sullivan Foundation was established in 1934 to ensure the continuity of Sullivan’s mission.

Graduating senior Qadira K. Muhammad was the recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Commencement 2019, in honor of her excellence of character and humanitarian service.