Eudora Welty held professorships and gave lectures at America's leading educational institutions, including Smith College, Bryn Mawr College, Harvard University, Millsaps College, Agnes Scott College, University of Chicago, and Brown University.
Honorary degrees have been bestowed on Welty by all of those institutions, as well as by Yale University, Princeton University, Emory University, The University of the South, Denison University, Washington and Lee University, Mount Holyoke College, Tulane University, Washington University, the University of Wisconsin, and 21 other colleges and universities.
Welty holds Lifetime Achievement Awards from the American Association of University Women, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Governors Association, the National Book Foundation, and Radcliffe College. She was named Distinguished Alumna by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
Her work has been the subject of thousands of academic papers and theses.
Welty’s books have been translated into virtually every European language as well as Japanese and Russian. Symposia on her work have been held in Russia, France, and Great Britain. In l987 she was made a knight of France, receiving the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres from the French government. In l996 she received France's highest civilian award, the Legion d'Honneur. She holds an honorary degree from the University of Burgundy in France. Her novel The Optimist's Daughter earned Welty the Pulitzer Prize in 1973, and in 1980, U.S. president Jimmy Carter awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1986, Welty received the National Medal of the Arts Award from President Ronald Reagan.
Institutions in her native state have honored Welty in numerous ways: literary symposia on her work are held at Mississippi University for Women and the University of Mississippi. The Eudora Welty Chair in Southern Studies was established at Millsaps College and the Eudora Welty Chair in Humanities at Mississippi University for Women; the Eudora Welty New Playwright Series is held at New Stage Theatre; the University of Mississippi gives the Eudora Welty Award for Creative Writing; and Mississippi Educational Television established the Eudora Welty American Awards.
Welty has been awarded the Medal of Excellence from Mississippi University for Women and the Mississippi Arts Commission; the Authors Award from the Mississippi Library Association; the Richard Wright Award from Copiah Lincoln Community College; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, and the first Mississippi Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts. Governor William Winter proclaimed April 13, 1973, as Eudora Welty Day.
Two important buildings in Mississippi bear her name: the main branch of the Jackson/Hinds County Public Library System and the administration building at Mississippi University for Women.