Awards and Scholarships

2004 CAMWS Award
for Special Service

John and Penelope Biggs

John and Penelope Biggs richly deserve recognition as benefactors of the field of Classics.  John’s interest in antiquity was kindled at Thomas Jefferson School in St. Louis.  Both John and Penelope majored in Classics as undergraduates; John received his A.B. from Harvard in 1958 (magna cum laude), Penelope from Radcliffe in 1959 (summa cum laude).  They were married in 1959, and a love of the literature and culture of Greece and Rome has been an important part of the life they have shared for decades.  Their son Henry (Assistant Dean of the Faculty at Washington University, who will be receiving the award today on their behalf) carried on the family tradition, majoring in Classics at Harvard as his parents had done.  Penelope went on to receive the Ph.D. from Washington University in 1974 in Comparative Literature (with a concentration in Classics), after which she became a member of the faculty at Lindenwood University.  After receiving tenure at Lindenwood, she moved on to teach Latin at Mary Institute from 1980-1988.  John pursued graduate work in economics at Washington University, receiving the PhD in 1983; he recently retired as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA/CREF, one of the nation’s largest pension programs.  He has served on many boards of directors for both national and international organizations, including the Archaeological Institute of America and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.

John and Penelope have long been warm supporters of the Classics in St. Louis, and at Washington University in particular.  Among their many benefactions is the John and Penelope Biggs Residency in the Classics, which since 1990 has brought scholars of international status to St. Louis for week-long visits, including multiple public presentations.  These have included historians (notably Erich Gruen and Josiah Ober), literary scholars (most recently W. Ralph Johnson), philosophers (including Martha Nussbaum and Elizabeth Asmis), and archaeologists (Emily Vermeule and George Bass).  “Biggs Week” is probably the most important and warmly anticipated annual event for the St. Louis Classics community.  In addition, it has recently been announced that John and Penelope have endowed a professorial chair in Classics at Washington University.

John and Penelope are always in St. Louis for “Biggs Week” and take advantage of it to renew old acquaintances and to bring together many of their friends who share their love of Greece and Rome.  They both continue to study the ancient world and to find rewards and satisfaction in that continuing study—a striking example of the way undergraduate study of the Classics can enrich long and productive lives that include many other pursuits. 

For their exceptional generosity and their lifetime of truly inspiring devotion to the Classics, CAMWS is delighted to give them the Special Service Award.


This site is maintained by Alexander Ward ( | ©2010 CAMWS