Graduate School

Horace Mann Medal

The Horace Mann Medal is given annually to a Brown Graduate School alumnus or alumna who has made significant contributions in his or her field, inside or outside of academia.

Any graduate of a Brown advanced-degree program is eligible for the Horace Mann Medal. The medal is awarded at Commencement exercises in May. 


A nomination should, at a minimum, include a strong supporting rationale for the nomination, expressed in a letter of nomination. Up to two additional supporting letters may also accompany the nomination. Only one nomination package per nominee will be accepted. All nominations should be made through Brown UFunds (select the Graduate School Academic Honors button). 


December 1, 2023.

Selection Process

The final selection process takes place in late fall, in conjunction with the University's selection of honorary-degree recipients. (Nominations received after the deadline will be considered in the next round of review.) Selection news is announced in May.

Note: Nominators/departments will be expected to assist the Graduate School in hosting the Medalist; guidelines will be provided if selected.


This award was created in 2003 and replaced the Distinguished Graduate School Alumni Award.  

Horace Mann, class of 1819
Father of American public school education

Horace MannBorn in 1796Horace Mann spent his youth in poverty on his family's farm. Although his schooling was limited to about three months a year, he supplemented his learning through religious studies and tutoring. He entered Brown University as a sophomore, graduated in 1819, and went on to earn a law degree. 

Mann served as a state representative and, later, as a senator in the Massachusetts legislature. He helped pass legislation to create the nation's first state board of education, and from 1837 to 1848, served as the board's first secretary, creating a system of public schools in Massachusetts that would become a model for public education across the country. Mann's statue and that of Daniel Webster still flank the entrance to the Massachusetts State House.

In 1848, Mann was elected to Congress, where he fought vigorously against slavery. In 1854, he was named president of Antioch College in Ohio, where he remained until 1859. A few weeks before his death, he urged Antioch's graduating class, "Be ashamed to die before you have won some battle for humanity." Mann is buried at North Burial Ground in Providence.

2022-2023 Medal Recipient

Dr. Lackey sitting by a stone pillar with bare trees in the background; she is wearing a grey suit jacket and blue shirt.Jennifer Lackey ‘00 Ph.D.

Jennifer Lackey ‘00 Ph.D. is the 2023 recipient of the Horace Mann Medal. Lackey received her Ph.D. in Philosophy and is currently the Wayne and Elizabeth Jones Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law (courtesy) at Northwestern University. She is also the Founding Director of the Northwestern Prison Education Program, a partnership between Northwestern University and the Illinois Department of Corrections, and the only bachelor’s degree-granting program for incarcerated students offered by a top 10 university in the United States.

Lackey specializes in the field of epistemology—the study of cognition and inquiry. She is at the forefront of social epistemology, a movement to reorient this field from a narrow focus on the beliefs and knowledge of individuals toward a recognition that believing and knowing are deeply social phenomena. Her work also explores the social, political, legal, and moral dimensions of how we treat other cognitive beings—how we come to believe, or to reject, what they tell us.

While at Brown, Lackey’s dissertation focused on the epistemology of testimony—how we acquire knowledge from the written or spoken word of others. Several years after being hooded by her mentor, Ernest Sosa, she received the Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship through the American Council of Learned Societies (2007–2008) for research that culminated in her first book, Learning from Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge. Lackey continues to be a central source for scholars working in the area of epistemology of testimony.

Read more about Dr. Lackey.

Jennifer Lackey ‘00 Ph.D. is the Wayne and Elizabeth Jones Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law (courtesy) at Northwestern University. She is also the Founding Director of the Northwestern Prison Education Program.