The Scarlet Key

The Scarlet Key Program is a joint project of the Office of the Vice President and Dean of Students and the Office of the Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations. Its purpose is to select outstanding juniors and seniors as recipients of the Scarlet Key Award, nominate and select candidates for induction as Honorary Scarlet Key recipients, and select recipients of the Scarlet Key Scholarship.

Scarlet Key was founded in 1938 as an activities honor society, whose members would vote in new members annually. Students were informed of their induction by being "tapped" by an existing member. The organization held a formal initiation ceremony each spring and fall and also sponsored a semiformal dance at the president's home. Before Scarlet Key's decline in the early 1970s, its members often served as hosts for University events, much like the President's Hosts do today.

From 1972 to 1978, no new Scarlet Key members were inducted. In 1979, the General Alumni Association (now the Boston University Alumni) revived Scarlet Key as an honor awarded to outstanding seniors who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in student activities and organizations, service to their School or College, and scholarship. Since 1993, two to four juniors have also been inducted annually. In 1996 two of the junior inductees were awarded the first Scarlet Key Scholarships.

As Scarlet Key continues to grow, many of its more than 1,500 alumni have taken on leadership positions in the University. Currently ten members of the Board of Trustees were Scarlet Key recipients. Three members of the Executive Committee of the Boston University Association belong to Scarlet Key, as do numerous faculty members, including the dean of the School of Management. Honorary recipients include Dean Robert Watts Thornburg and Chancellor John Silber.

The reestablishment of this high honor by what is now the Boston University Alumni and by the Office of the Vice President and Dean of Students is in keeping with our continuing effort to give special recognition to those who through their distinguished accomplishments have made notable contributions to our Alma Mater. Our purpose has been to help motivate such achievements and thereby bring honor to all graduates of Boston University.