Senior Earns Perfect Grades

Lisa B. Schwartz ’03 has managed to achieve what most students consider impossible.

Over her four years at Harvard, Schwartz did not receive a single grade lower than an A—not even an A-minus, giving her a perfect 15.0 grade point average on Harvard’s 15 point scale.

Schwartz, also a Crimson editor, will receive the Sophia Fruend prize today, an honor awarded each year to the highest ranked summa cum laude graduate in the College.

But unlike most recipients of the award, Schwartz has a perfect academic record. The last person to earn this distinction was Lisa’s older brother Kevin S. Schwartz ’01, who was the first undergraduate in nearly 20 years to achieve such perfection.

Schwartz said that while she was proud of her brother when he won the award, she never felt pressure to repeat his success.

“I knew it was most important that I make the most of my own experiences at Harvard, so I never made it a goal to set any records,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in government, said she took a wide variety of classes and tried to challenge herself academically.

“I’ve loved my time at Harvard,” Schwartz said. “[I] feel that I’ve learned something from all aspects of my experience here, so it’s definitely is a nice honor.”

Fellow students, advisors and professors were not surprised to hear of Schwartz’s perfect record.

Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures Maria M. Tatar predicted such a feat was within Schwartz’s reach during her freshman year when she took Tatar’s core class “Fairy Tales, Children’s Literature and the Culture of Childhood.”

“Lisa is a natural in the academic world, achieving the impossible with power, control, rigor and real style,” Tatar said.

In addition to winning the Fruend Prize, Schwartz is also a Truman Scholar and is a member of the USA Today College Academic First Team.

“Lisa is such a self-starter and so motivated,” said Andrea L. Campbell ’88, an assistant professor of government and Schwartz’s thesis advisor.

Schwartz wrote her senior thesis on the little-known U.S. Judicial Conference, which makes policy for the federal justice system. The Conference is composed of the Supreme Court’s chief justice and other top federal judges.

Campbell said that Schwartz’s thesis, which she called “extraordinary,” dealt with a topic that few have studied. “It could easily be published as a book,” Campbell said.

The thesis, entitled “Judging Policy: The U.S. Judicial Conference and the Politics of Judicial Involvement in Congressional Policy Making,” also won the James Gordon Bennett Prize for the outstanding Government thesis on a subject of American domestic or foreign policy—one of the top prizes awarded in the department.

Campbell predicted a bright future for Schwartz in public service.

“Well, she already worked in the House, the Senate, the United Nations and the Supreme Court,” Campbell said. “She’ll most likely be a major figure and have a prominent future in public policy in some way.”

Ronald C. Chen, a law tutor in Eliot House who worked closely with her on business and law school applications, praised Schwartz’s commitment to excellence in both her academic and extracurricular involvement.

“Writing recommendations for Lisa was always a perilous task,” Chen said. “One is not certain to succeed in conveying all that she has accomplished in her life thus far.”

Schwartz, who has worked in the office of Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, has been president of the Harvard Mock Trial Team, on the Institute of Politics’ Student Advisory Committee and on the executive board of the Small Claims Advisory Service.

Schwartz will attend Harvard Business School in the fall, pursuing a JD-MBA degree with Yale Law School.

—Staff writer Anat Maytal can be reached at