The philosophy and legacy of Albert Schweitzer is an essential component of a Chapman University education. Often referred to as Chapman’s “guiding spirit”, Schweitzer was a theologian, philosopher, musicologist, organist, and physician. His philosophy of “Reverence for Life” argues that all life on Earth is unified and sacred, and that humans have a fundamental responsibility to care for each other and the environment. Schweitzer received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for this philosophy, and with the prize money founded his hospital at Lambaréné in Central Africa.

We are seeking nominations for two awards that honor graduates who are following in Schweitzer’s footsteps and truly making a difference in the world. Read on to learn about the criteria for each award and to find out how to submit a nomination.

The Schweitzer Award of Excellence

Since 1982, Chapman University has given the Schweitzer Award of Excellence to an individual or organization that exemplifies Albert Schweitzer’s ethics of reverence for life and his dedication to a life of service. The recipient of this lifetime achievement award is selected from Chapman’s outstanding community of alumni.  View a list of recipients of the Schweitzer Award of Excellence » 


Rev. Dr. Rita N. Brock ’72

Last year’s Schweitzer Award of Excellence recipient was Rev. Dr. Rita N. Brock ’72, who was honored for her work with the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School in Ft. Worth, Texas. Soul Repair Center helps educate the public on how to support individuals suffering from moral injury, such as guilt-ridden veterans once forced to kill, during their reintegration into society. The Center offers programs to employers, educators and medical care givers to help survivors of moral injury resolve their traumatic grief and restore their dignity.


The Schweitzer Rising Star Award


Cara Lawler ’12

Beginning in 2014, a new award was created in addition to the Schweitzer Award of Excellence. This new award, the Schweitzer Rising Star Award, recognizes an inspiring young Chapman alumnus or alumna who has taken up Albert Schweitzer’s challenge to invest his or her humanity for the betterment of humankind and the world.

The recipient of the 2015 Schweitzer Rising Star award was Cara Lawler ’12, in recognition of her work with Someone a World Away (SAWA),  a non-profit organization she founded that focuses on the development and expansion of the El Shadai Grace Children’s Centre in Githurai Nairobi, Kenya. Cara’s goal is to buy a permanent plot of land through SAWA and build a new home for the 25 current orphans at the center, and open the door to welcome more children into the home.

Do you know a Chapman University alumnus or alumna who is deserving of one of these prestigious honors?

Nominees for the Schweitzer Award of Excellence must:

  1. Be involved in extraordinary humanitarian work that embodies Schweitzer’s ethics of reverence for life and his dedication to a life of service;
  2. Have played a leadership role in envisioning, founding, directing, or developing the project(s)/organization(s); and
  3. Inspire others to “invest their humanity” in a life of service and to embrace an ethics of reverence for life, both by their example and by facilitating engagement.

Nominate an alumnus or alumna for the Schweitzer Award of Excellence »

Nominees for the Schweitzer Rising Star Award must possess the same qualities as nominees for the Schweitzer Award of Excellence in addition to being a young alumnus or alumna (less than 10 years out of college). Nominate an alumnus or alumna for the Schweitzer Rising Star Award »

Nominations must be submitted online by March 15, 2016. The awards will be presented during commencement weekend in May 2016. If you have questions, please contact Nancy Martin, associate professor and chair of the department of religious studies, at