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English Department Awards and Honors

We believe strongly in recognizing high achievement and honors-level work. Learn more about how we recognize the scholarly accomplishments of students in the English department.
One morning a week the English department holds a coffee hour in their Melinda and Jeff Fager '77 Student Lounge, here with Professor Jane Pinchin, Visiting O'Connor Professor Brian Hall (center), Professor Sarah Wider (third from right), and English majors. The lounge is always humming.

Earning Honors and High Honors

Students typically pursue an honors project in the fall term of their senior year, though there is flexibility to start earlier. You are eligible to pursue an English honors project if you have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 in you English department coursework. The privilege to work toward honors is granted at the discretion of individual faculty and involves a multi-step process, as outlined below.

An informational meeting is held in early September to discuss:
  • The department's expectations for honors
  • The honors process
  • Significant deadlines
To pursue honors you must go through the following process:
  1. Select a topic, typically emerging from a paper prepared for a 300- or 400-level course.
  2. Submit a formal, written prospectus with a short reading list by mid-October for approval by the your faculty supervisor and the director of the honors program.
  3. Enroll in ENGL 490, an honors seminar, during the spring term of your senior year. This is taken in addition to the required 400-level seminar and the minimum eight courses required for the major.
    • You will write your thesis in tandem with ENGL 490. You and your classmates will write and share drafts of your theses with the seminar.
  4. Submit a final version of your thesis to the department.
  5. If initially approved by the department, you will then discuss the thesis with faculty members at an oral presentation scheduled during finals week.
If your project passes approval, and you receive a passing grade in ENGL 490, and you have maintained a departmental GPA of at least 3.5, you will be awarded honors.

If you meet all of the above requirements and have also maintained a departmental GPA of 3.7 or greater, you will be awarded high honors.

English Department Awards

The Allen Prizes in English Composition: Established by the Rev. Dr. George K. Allen, a member of the class of 1870, in memory of his wife, Hattie Boyd Allen — two prizes in English composition.

The Phillip K. Dorn Memorial Prize: Established in memory of Phillip K. Dorn by Norstar Trust Company. The award is given to a graduating senior English major who is distinguished in the study of English and who plans, on graduation, to pursue further professional training or begin a career in medicine, business, finance, or law. When possible, the award is given to a student with an interest in poetry.

The Jonathan H. Kistler Memorial Curricular Innovation Fund in English: Established in 1996 by Harry F. Lee ’57 to support and nurture new curricular and pedagogical ideas within the English department.

The Lasher Prize: Established as an award to a member of the junior class in recognition of outstanding talent.

The Lasher Prize for Distinction in English Composition: Established by the Rev. Dr. George W. Lasher, a member of the Class of 1857, and awarded for distinction in the various types of writing.

The Howard W. and Anne T. Pike Memorial Prize
: Established in 1993 by William R. and Gloria Pike in memory of Howard W. and Anne T. Pike. Awarded annually to a graduating senior for outstanding achievement and contribution to the University Theater Program.

The Scott Saunders Prize for Excellence in Literature: Established in memory of Scott Saunders ’89, and awarded annually to a senior major in English who participated in the Colgate English department study group to London, in recognition of work done in London which is distinguished in its own right or which contributed to the completion of a distinguished project.

Withdrawing from Honors

If you choose to withdraw from your pursuit of the honors and high honors designations, or if your written honors work is deemed insufficient for such a designation, then your enrollment in the ENGL 490 seminar is converted to ENGL 491, Independent Study, and you will receive a grade for the course from your thesis supervisor.