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Celebrating 120 years of the ASU Moeur Award

ASU graduates who receive the Moeur Award wear maroon stoles at commencement and convocation ceremonies.

May 03, 2021

This spring, nearly 550 graduating Sun Devils will be recognized as Moeur Award recipients. This academic distinction and longtime tradition has been awarded by the ASU Alumni Association since 1901.

Undergraduate students with a 4.0 GPA who meet all the criteria receive the Moeur Award. To qualify, graduating students are required to earn all of their courses at ASU within eight consecutive fall and spring semesters with no transfer hours. This is the 120th year that the Moeur Award has been bestowed upon graduates, though it has not always been a scholastic honor.

In 1901, B. B. Moeur awarded two students, one female and one male, with the Moeur Medal for excellence in debate at the institution. Moeur was a Tempe physician and businessman who sponsored the award. His business ventures included serving as president of Southside Electric Light and Gas Co., and partnership in the Tempe Hardware Co. on Mill Avenue.

Moeur served as governor of Arizona from 1933 to 1937, and led the state through the Great Depression. In addition to his leadership in government and business, Moeur also was active in the community, serving eight years on the Tempe School Board and as a member of the board of education of the Tempe Normal School, the predecessor of Arizona State University.  

In 1902, the Moeur Medal transitioned to an academic honor. It was used to recognize the Tempe Normal School graduate with the highest average in all regular coursework during the two years prior to a student’s graduation. But just one year later, the award returned to an award for debate competition, which it remained until 1909.

In the years the Moeur Award served as a debate award, the recipient was chosen at an annual debate competition that occurred between students at the University of Arizona and the Tempe Normal School. In 1903, Tucson’s Arizona Star newspaper published that the University of Arizona had won that year’s debate by less than a point. The Moeur Medal was given to L. M. Laney, who the judges described as “admirable from every point of view.” 

In 1914, Moeur officially outlined the criteria for his award. Many of the standards he set that year have remained in place. In the early 1900s, the Moeur Award was given exclusively to one student, and now, all undergraduate seniors who meet the criteria receive the award.      

Moeur, in an outline of the Moeur Award qualifications from 1914, shared, “It is my desire and promise to make such provisions for the future as will make the Moeur Medal a permanent annual award to the student having the highest average scholarship in the Tempe Normal School of Arizona.” The ASU Alumni Association has helped continue this promise throughout 120 years.

“The ASU Alumni Association has been honoring the legacy of Dr. Moeur and awarding this distinction to recognize graduating students who have achieved and maintained a high level of academic excellence throughout their collegiate experience at Arizona State,” said Christine K. Wilkinson, association president and chief executive officer. “The Moeur Award honors graduates for their outstanding academic performance and celebrates this significant accomplishment.”

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