Established in 2005 with a $50,000 challenge gift from the late John A. Herring (a former Newcomb Hall director), the Fund which was matched subsequently through individual gifts in five years, and was first awarded in 2011 to Marcus Hall, College ’12.

With the addition of Mr. Herring’s bequest to the Serpentine Society and beginning in 2015, two $5,000 scholarships are awarded annually to two current students, either undergraduate or graduate, of any year who demonstrate leadership, citizenship, and fellowship and have actively supported, through volunteerism and advocacy, the LGBTQ Center at the University of Virginia. Rather than self-nomination, the recipient will be selected through nominations submitted from peers, students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

The student will be known for their exemplary acts of kindness toward people of diverse backgrounds and their participation in the education of others. This person will welcome and encourage a multitude of perspectives and not be a “one book person.”


Nominations for the 2017 John Herring Scholarship closed on April 30, 2017

Nominees must be full-time students in good standing at the University with a minimum GPA as determined by their school of enrollment.

The recipients will be required to attend the Serpentine Society’s Gala Awards Dinner, in the fall of 2017, for formal recognition. Any questions concerning the scholarship may be directed via email to the Chair of the Herring Scholarship, Blake Calhoun at


Scholarships Landing
Mr. Herring (left) with the first Herring Scholarship for Social Awareness recipient, Marcus Hall, in October 2011.


2015 Scholars

The 2015 John A. Herring Scholarship for Social Awareness award recipients are Brandon Chinn (Darden ’15) and Thomas Pilnik (College ’16).

Brandon Chinn (Darden ’15)

Brandon ChinnBrandon Chinn recently received his MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, where he earned the C. Steward Sheppard Distinguished Service Award, the Keven Bewley Memorial Scholarship, and the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence. He served as the president of Pride at Darden (PAD), making great strides for LGBTQ MBAs in admissions, fundraising, and campus climate.

Brandon organized a silent auction, which raised over $11,000 for Darden’s endowment for LGBTQ scholarships, as well as $1,000 for the Blue Ridge PFLAG Chapter. While president of Pride at Darden, Brandon also improved the admissions process for LGBTQ applicants, successfully orchestrating the addition of an “LGBTQ check box” to Darden’s application. During Brandon’s tenure as PAD President, Darden, for the first time ever, offered over 3 LGBTQ scholarships to prospective students through the ROMBA fellowship.

Furthermore, Brandon led the charge to improve Darden’s inclusion score (measured by the FriendFactor MBA Challenge) by 30%, thanks to several educational events on campus such as an Ask Me Anything lunch, a GAYme Night Cold Call, a National Coming Out Day First Coffee, and the annual Darden Drag Show. Prior to attending Darden, Brandon was active in the queer theatre community working with companies such as Re:Directions Theatre, Theatre Askew, and the Actors Theatre of Louisville, where he played a leading role in The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, An Epilogue. After his time at UVa, Brandon will join Peer Insight as a Senior Innovation Consultant in Washington, D.C.

Thomas Pilnik (College ’16)

Thomas Pilnik is a fourth year in the College studying Cognitive Science and Studio Art. Initially considering a life in Architecture, he quickly transferred into the College to explore a more holistic and extracurricular focused education. Over the past three years, Thomas has been significantly involved in the University Programs Council, Orientation and New Student Programs, and the Minority Rights Coalition amongst others.

Through his involvement in a wide variety of student groups, he has been able to interact with a wide array of students and listen to their concerns. Because of this, in the fall of 2014 he worked to start the Multicultural Student Center Initiative with a group of six other students. The MSCI has opened up the challenge of bringing an inclusive, resourceful, and collaborative space to the University. Through this, they hope to expand the dialogue surrounding diversity and inclusion with The Center acting as the starting point. Post-graduation, Thomas intends to pursue a career in Higher Education and Student Affairs to further the ability of universities to create truly open-minded, well-rounded, and global citizens.


Prior year recipients are listed here.


Obituary of John A. Herring

John Augustus Herring III was born on March 29, 1930, in St. Petersburg, Florida.

He died on Friday, April 20, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Dr. John A. Herring, Jr. and Evelyn Dulin Herring, formerly of Lexington, Kentucky. John attended Florida Military Academy (now Stetson Hall University) in St. Petersburg. After graduation from Florida Military Academy, he became a Cadet at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. It was noted in “The Bomb,” the VMI yearbook, that one could hear Mr. Herring before one saw him because he was always whistling Beethoven or Bizet. Classical music and a love for the arts in general followed him the rest of his life.

After his commission, Herring served in the United States Air Force in Korea where he was a First Lieutenant and attaché‚ in the 49th Bomber Squad. Upon completing military service, John received a Master of Arts in History at the University of Virginia and became a lecturer for the E. I. du Pont de Nemours Company. Herring returned to Charlottesville in 1958 and became Assistant Dean and Director of Newcomb Hall at University of Virginia, a position he held until 1989. During his tenure at the University, John organized and produced the University’s Artists Series.

Because of his intense interests in music and the arts, he brought many world renowned performers to the University and Charlottesville community, including, Van Cliburn, Mischa Dichter, Julie Harris, The London Symphony, The Hague Philharmonic, and many illustrious Broadway productions. Often, he served tea and sherry after the performances. Many great artists attended gatherings at his antique filled home. His students relished the opportunity to meet these performers in a small setting. John took great pride in his association with the University and often said the Artists Series was his finest hour; the Series lasted for many years. Mr. Herring, as he was known to his students, was supportive and generous. John’s objective in life was to encourage education for his students and everyone he met. To that end, he worked tirelessly to let young people know there was a world beyond their immediate eyes, and to promote tolerance.

After retirement from the University of Virginia, John moved to Richmond and resumed his travels. He drove across the United States, and visited friends. A world traveler, Mr. Herring especially enjoyed his many visits to Europe. He had a special love and respect for Venice, Italy, and his Professor Robert O. Cuppy whom he said was his greatest teacher. An avid collector of fine art, his eye for detail was that of a connoisseur. To his friends, when he wanted to be the teacher, he would say, “well, that is pleasant, but it isn’t real.” John continued his pursuit of, and interest in, arts and antiquities for the remainder of his life. He donated a number of important pieces to the University of Virginia Art Museum, where he served on the collections committee.

A great supporter of the Serpentine Society, he provided scholarships to students in need to help them continue their studies. His friends and former students joined him in establishing the John Herring Scholarship for Social Awareness at University of Virginia. Herring was honored with the Distinguish Service Award by the University of Virginia Alumni Association, among others awards received during his tenure at University of Virginia. John Herring was preceded in death by his parents; twin sister, Jane (in infancy); and sister, Evelyn (Herring) Harmon.

Survivors include his nephew John Harman and wife, Patricia, of Bluefield, West Virginia; and their daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, both of whom are in doctoral programs of which he was very proud. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made in his memory to the John Herring Scholarship for Social Awareness care of the University of Virginia Alumni Association.


This obituary was originally published in the Daily Progress.