Academic Awards

The selection of award recipients follows one of two processes:

  1. Essay/Writing Competitions - students submit written work for consideration
  2. Departmental - winners are chosen based on current academic records or overall performance in a discipline

Procedures for Entering the Writing Competitions

  1. All essays are to be typed, using double space.
  2. Normally, all essays are to be at least 3000 words in length.
  3. Assumed names are to be used. Essays are to be submitted electronically.
  4. No single essay can be used for more than one Award.
  5. Consult with Departments for Essay/Writing Competition deadlines. Departments need to submit the names of the competition winners to Lynn Levesque,, on or before April 12, 2024.
  6. Procedures for contributions to The Purple are determined by the editorial staff of The Purple. 

Essay/Writing Competitions

The following awards are Essay/Writing Competitions. Students may submit written work to be considered.

Fourth-Year Writing Competition

The Beethoven Prize is awarded to a fourth-year student for the best historical or analytical essay on music or an original composition. Department of Music.

The Rev. William F. Hartigan Medal is awarded for the best essay on a subject in Religion. Department of Religious Studies.

The George Bernard Shaw Award is given for the best essay in dramatic literature or film. Department of Theatre.

The Edward F. Wall, Jr., Prize is awarded annually to a fourth-year student whose research essay in any field of history is judged by the Department of History to be exemplary. The prize is in memory of Edward F. Wall, Jr., a former Chair of the Department and Class Dean, who was a member of the faculty for 34 years.

The Washington Semester Research Prize is given for the best thesis in the Washington Semester Program.

Third-Year Writing Competition

The Markham Memorial Scholarship Award is given to a third-year student majoring in philosophy who demonstrates the highest aptitude for philosophical inquiry and whose commitment to his or her studies best exemplifies the belief that "critical examination of fundamental religious and philosophical questions is integral to a liberal arts education. Department of Philosophy.

Writing Competitions for All Students

The Academy of American Poets Prize is given for the best poem or group of poems submitted to the English Department/Purple. Department of English.

The Bourgeois French Prize is awarded for the best essay on a subject relating to the culture of the French and their descendants in the United States. Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

The Crompton Gold Medal is awarded for the best scientific essay or research paper submitted during the school year. 

The John J. Crowley Memorial Prize is awarded for the best essay on a religious, literary, historical, economic or scientific subject. Please consult Anthony Cashman, Director of Graduate Studies.

The John J. Cummings, Jr./Bai Award is for the best essay or research paper submitted during the academic year on a subject relating to financial institutions. 

The Monsignor Kavanagh Medal & Award are given for the best original essay on some phase of Christian art or archeology. Department of Visual Arts.

The Leonard J. McCarthy, S.J., Memorial Prize is awarded for the best essay in the criticism of English or American Literature. Deadline for essay submissions:  Friday, March 22, 2024.

The Purple Prize is awarded for the best poem submitted to The Purple. Department of English.

The Jairam Miguel Rodrigues Rao Prize is awarded for the best paper, project, or presentation that addresses environmental racism and justice written by a student, as an individual or in collaboration with others, at the College. Department of Environmental Studies.

The James H. Reilly Memorial Purse is given to the student who has contributed the best poem or short story to The Purple. Department of English.

The Freeman M. Saltus Prize is awarded for excellence in writing essays on labor or economics. Department of Economics.

The Strain Gold Medal is given for the best essay submitted during the academic year on a subject taken from the field of philosophy. Please submit your essay electronically to the Philosophy Departments Administrative Assistant by April 1, 2024.


The following awards are Departmental; students will be chosen by the applicable department or committee based on academic record or overall performance. 

The George J. Allen, Ph.D., '65 Psychology Award is given to a fourth-year psychology major who best exemplifies the integration of empirical scientific research and community service.

The American Institute of Chemists Foundation Award goes to an outstanding fourth-year chemistry major for a demonstrated record of ability, leadership, and professional promise.

The Pedro Arrupe Medal for Outstanding Service is awarded to a graduating man and woman whose faith in the gospel is made visible through their work for justice, both at Holy Cross and beyond.

The Karen Gottschang Turner Asian Studies Award is presented to a fourth-year Asian Studies major or concentrator who has submitted the most outstanding piece of scholarly or artistic work as judged by a committee of Asian Studies faculty. The award also recognizes distinctive academic achievement in the Asian Studies curriculum and contribution to the Asian Studies Program.

The Elias Atamian Family Book Award is given to a student who has excelled in Middle Eastern Studies.

The Nellie M. Bransfield Award is given to a fourth-year outstanding actor/actress.

The Joseph C. Cahill Prize is awarded to a graduating chemistry major for excellence in chemistry.

The Claudia N. Ross Chinese Studies Award is to recognize a graduating Chinese major who has demonstrated excellence and commitment in the study of Chinese language, literature and culture. Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Culture.

The Teresa A. Churilla Second-Year Book Award in Biology is given in memory of Teresa A. Churilla, a Biology major, to a second-year student of biology who best exemplifies the ideals of intellectual curiosity, academic excellence, and scientific promise that characterized Teresa.

The Frank D. Comerford Award is given to a fourth-year student for superior ability in public speaking.

The Philip A. Conniff, S.J., Prize in Latin is awarded by the Classics Department to a fourth-year Classics major for excellence in the study of the Latin language.

The Patrick F. Crowley Memorial Award is given for proficiency in oratory and debating.

The Caren G. Dubnoff Political Science Award is given to a fourth-year Political Science major for outstanding academic achievement in Political Science.

The Economics & Accounting Achievement Award honors the student who has contributed most significantly in scholarship, enthusiasm and/or service to the Economics Department.

The James Fallon Debating Purse was founded in 1901 by the Rev. John J. Fallon, of the class of 1880, for year-long excellence in debating skills.

The Father Flatley Medal is awarded to a fourth-year student who displays the greatest degree of talent for (and love of) Philosophy.

The Rev. John W. Flavin, S.J., Award in Biology is given to a fourth-year biology major who has shown excellence in scientific achievement, humanitarian service, or contribution to the vitality of the Biology Department and the College.

The Vin Forde Memorial Award awarded annually by the faculty of the Department of Religious Studies to the graduating senior who, in our judgment, best exemplifies the values of Vin Forde: dedication to the academic study of religion alongside a manifest commitment to both the Catholic and civic communities, represented in the individual's service to the College, Church, and broader community.

The Thomas A. Fulham Environmental Studies Prize is given to a third or fourth-year student in recognition of his or her work in safeguarding our physical environment.

The Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Award "First established in 1993 in recognition of academic excellence in Women's Studies, the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Award today honors a student who has achieved excellence in academic work from the perspective of critical feminist and/or gender theory and who has demonstrated engagement with issues of pressing concern to women and LGBTQIA+ persons."

The Dr. Marianthi Georgoudi Memorial Award is given to the outstanding graduating Psychology major as judged by the faculty of the Psychology Department. This award is in memory of Dr. Georgoudi who had been a member of the Holy Cross Psychology Department.

The Ernest A. Golia '34, M.D., Book Award is given to a first-year student who is a non-Classics major for excellence in any course offered by the Department.

The Edna Dwyer Grzebien Prize is awarded for excellence and commitment in the study of world languages.

The George H. Hampsch Award is for outstanding contribution to the Cause of Peace. This award is in memory of Dr. Hampsch, who had been a member of the Philosophy Department.

The Rev. Robert F. Healey, S.J., Greek Prize is awarded by the Classics Department to a fourth-year Classics major who has attained a high degree of proficiency in the study of Ancient Greek.

The Walter Gordon Howe Award is for excellence in percussion performance.

The Thomas P. Imse Alpha Kappa Award is given to a fourth-year sociology major who is a member of Alpha Kappa Delta. This award is in recognition of scholarly excellence and demonstrated commitment to learning for the service of humankind.

The Italian Studies Prize is awarded for the best essay on a theme of Italian literature or culture.

The Robert Edmond Jones Award is awarded by the Theatre Department for achievement in the areas of Design and Technical Theatre.

The Edward V. Killeen, Jr., Prize is awarded for general excellence in chemistry throughout the Premedical course.

The Óscar Romero Latin American, Latinx and Caribbean Studies Award is presented to a fourth-year Latin American and Latino Studies Concentrator who has demonstrated academic excellence in the program through the quality and diversity of their coursework at Holy Cross and abroad. The award also recognizes outstanding participation in cultural and other promotional programs on and off campus and significant engagement in service to the Latino community.

The John C. Lawlor Medal is awarded to the outstanding student and athlete throughout the college course.

The William E. Leahy Award is given in memory of William E. Leahy, of the class of 1907, for leadership as a debater.

The Leonard Award is given for proficiency in oratory, debating or like competition. This award is given to the Valedictorian of the graduating class.

The Heather C. Lochmuller '98 Award was established in 1999 in memory of Heather. It is awarded to a fourth-year chemistry major for outstanding service to the Chemistry Department.

The Rev. John J. MacDonnell, S.J., Computer Science Award is awarded for excellence in and engagement with computer science.

The Gertrude McBrien Mathematics Prize is awarded for proficiency in Mathematics.

The Montserrat Writing Prize is awarded to three first year students for papers written in their Montserrat seminars during the academic year.

The Nugent Gold Medal is awarded for general excellence in Physics.

The John D. O'Connell Prize for Accounting Excellence was established in '94 to honor the distinguished services of the College's senior accounting professor. Given to a third-year accounting major for academic achievement, service and leadership. The awardee, selected by the accounting faculty, is honored for continuing the traditions associated with Professor O'Connell — pursuit of academic excellence, demonstrated leadership in service to the community and demonstrated interest in and commitment to the profession of public accounting.

The Joseph J. O'Connor Purse is for excellent debating by a first-year or second-year student through-out the debating season.

The John L. Philip Memorial American Sign Language Award is given to a graduating student who has demonstrated an interest in, and motivation to learn, American Sign Language (ASL) and to bring that learning to life. This student has integrated his/her classroom knowledge of ASL and Deaf culture with respect for, and interaction with, members of the Deaf Community.

The Mrs. Kate C. Power Award is given to the highest-ranking student in the second-year class.

The John Paul Reardon Medal and Award was established in 1985 by John Paul Reardon, a former faculty member, in memory of the late Rev. J. Gerard Mears, S.J. The medal and award are given annually to a graduating student for excellence in studio art.

The Rev. John F. Redican Medal is given for general excellence to a third-year student who has made a unique contribution to the College's intellectual life.

The Susan Rodgers Anthropology Award honors the one anthropology student who has demonstrated superior achievement in the discipline while an undergraduate at Holy Cross.

The Study Abroad Independent Project Prize is given for initiative, seriousness of purpose, and excellence in a Study Abroad Independent Project.

The Undergraduate Award for Achievement in Analytical Chemistry is for excellence in analytic chemistry.

The Undergraduate Award for Achievement in Organic Chemistry is for excellence in organic chemistry.

The Varsity Club Norton Prize is given to an outstanding student-athlete.

The Shirley Verrett French Prize in Memory of the Rev. Lionel P. Honoré, S. J. is awarded to the top French major in the graduating class as determined by the French faculty.

The George Vidulich-Andrew Vanhook Award is given to a fourth-year student for an excellent research thesis and presentation.

The Carter G. Woodson Prize is given to a fourth-year student for outstanding scholarly or artistic achievement in African American Studies.