Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship

The Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship (originally named the Women’s Society Scholarship) is a two-year, full-tuition scholarship awarded annually to students graduating from St. Louis Community College and transferring to Washington University in St. Louis.

This scholarship program came into existence in response to Chancellor Thomas H. Eliot’s request to fund an annual scholarship for St. Louis Community College transfer students.

It is named in honor of Elizabeth Gray Danforth as an expression of gratitude and admiration for her service as first lady of Washington University for 24 years. She was wife, mother, community volunteer and valued partner of William H. Danforth, the university’s chancellor emeritus. Mrs. Danforth was an enthusiastic supporter of Washington University until her death in 2005.

Bill and Ibby Danforth attend a Jan. 6, 1978, ceremony in which Bill received the St. Louis Globe-Democrat’s 1977 Man of the Year award.

Selection process

Students who complete 60 transferable credit hours from St. Louis Community College by the end of spring semester as well as apply and are admitted to Washington University are automatically considered for this unique, competitive scholarship. To meet the deadline for consideration, an undergraduate application must be submitted to Washington University by March 1.

Applicants selected as finalists will be notified and asked to interview on campus in early April. The scholarship selection committee, which includes representatives from the university and the Women’s Society, will interview and select the scholarship recipients based on the following criteria:

  • Level of commitment to academic achievement
  • Enthusiasm for learning
  • Clarity of goals – short and long-term
  • Potential for leadership
  • Dedication to community service

Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award

The Women’s Society of Washington University initiated its Leadership Award in 1998 (renamed the Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award in 2007) to recognize outstanding graduating senior women who have made a significant contribution to Washington University in St. Louis during their undergraduate years and have demonstrated exceptional potential for future leadership.

In 2007, the Women’s Society named the leadership award in honor of Harriet K. Switzer upon her retirement from Washington University. Harriet was secretary to the Board of Trustees for more than 26 years, responsible to the chancellor for the smooth functioning of an 80-member board. She also served as the university coordinator for WSWU and brought a new level of leadership to its 45 board members and 23 advisory board members.

Washington University Women’s Society annual meeting, lecture, and luncheon. Harriet K. Switzer, left, with leadership award winners Katie Bush and Tiffini Hyatt.

Selection process

Nominations for the Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award are solicited from administrators, deans, academic advisers, faculty, staff and student leaders. Students may nominate themselves or others. Two references for all nominees are required. The selection committee, composed of members of the Women’s Society, reviews all submissions and selects several finalists. The committee then interviews each finalist and chooses the award recipient based on the following criteria:

  • Full-time senior woman student
  • Minimum GPA of 3.25
  • Recognized leadership and exceptional potential for future leadership
  • Record of demonstrated service to others
  • Noted excellence in a chosen pursuit which has contributed significantly to the Washington University community, for example:
    • A cocurricular or community service activity
    • A new project or program
    • An original piece of work

Each year, the awardee is honored at the annual membrship meeting in April with a gift and $500 cash award. In addition, the name of the recipient is engraved on the Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award plaque. The nomination deadline is Friday, February 11, 2022


Student projects and progams

The mission of the funding committee of the Women’s Society of Washington University is to support the educational, cultural and community outreach efforts that enhance the experiences and quality of life for members of the Washington University community. Typically, the committee awards 10 to 15 grants each fall, ranging from $300 to $2,000. The application deadline is November 1.

Generally, the committee is interested in projects that:

  • Enhance and enrich the artistic, cultural and educational experience of the campus
  • Reflect and respect the diversity of the university community
  • Encourage and support community service and leadership opportunities among students
  • Offer the potential for participation by significant numbers of people

The committee adheres to the following funding guidelines:

  • Grants are generally for one year at a time and can be requested for a variety of uses, including start-up, capital or program expenses.
  • Proposals must articulate clear goals and measurable outcomes.
  • Projects must acknowledge the support of WSWU and are encouraged to offer opportunities for the involvement of WSWU members, when possible.
  • Preference is given to projects for which need is demonstrated.
  • Funding is not available to individuals or for activities that take place prior to the approval of the grant application.

Download the project request form.

For additional information or to submit forms:
Women’s Society of Washington University
Campus Box 1228
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, Missouri 63130-4899

Phone: 314-935-7337
Email: wswu@wustl.edu

In 2020-21, the WSWU granted $23,750 to 14 university projects:

  • Activating a Multilingual Family Lending Library  (April–December, 2021)
  • African Film Festival  (March 25–28, 2021)
  • Bare Mail Program (Spring Semester 2021)
  • Black Anthology 2021  (Spring 2021)
  • Catalyst for Change  (November–March, 2021)
  • Engaging in this Civic Moment  (February–Fall, 2021)
  • International Women’s Day  (March 9, 2021)
  • Philanthropy Lab  (Spring Semester 2021)
  • 30th Annual Washington University Pow Wow  (March 27–28, 2021)
  • Relay for Life (April 10, 2021)
  • Ready to React  (Fall 2021)
  • Requiem of Light (Fall 2021)
  • Undergraduate Food Pantry  (Spring Semester 2021)
  • Underrepresented STEM Students  (January–November, 2021)