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Awards and Honors

Dickinson College’s awards programs and public forums recognize some of the greatest intellectuals, scientists, artists, educators, public servants and business leaders of our time and enrich the campus community.

Each year, the honorees and invited speakers come to campus and share their knowledge and insights with the Dickinson and surrounding communities through public addresses, discussions and/or performances. Many often visit classrooms, participate with seminars and meet with students, faculty and other Dickinsonians.

Joseph Priestley Award

The Priestley Award and lecture is an annual celebration honoring  a distinguished scientist whose work has contributed to the welfare of humanity. The award, which was first presented in 1952, is made in memory of Joseph Priestley, discoverer of oxygen.

During the celebration, the college displays its collection of Priestley apparatus and memorabilia. The recipient receives an honorarium and a ceramic medallion struck from an original 1779 mold by Josiah Wedgwood that bears a likeness of Priestley. The image is derived from a pen-and-ink drawing by John Flaxman.

Previous Priestley Award winners 

Benjamin Rush Award

The Benjamin Rush Award recognizes outstanding achievement by a member of the business or government community. The recipient presents a public lecture addressing the relationship of a liberal-arts education to the business or government world. While visiting campus, the Rush Award recipient typically meets with students, faculty and other members of the college community to discuss relevant issues.

The recipient of the award is presented with an honorarium and with a bronze medal that bears the likeness of Benjamin Rush, the prominent Colonial-era Philadelphia physician who was a key founder of the college and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The first Benjamin Rush Award was presented in 1985 to the board chairman and chief executive officer of CBS. Recipients have included three other corporate executives; the minister of trade, industry and energy of the Republic of Korea; the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget; the deputy secretary general of the United Nations; and the chairman of the Board of Mutual Life Insurance of America. The 2003-04 recipient was Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Previous award winners

The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program

Jean Louise Stellfox ’60 was inspired to become an English teacher after meeting Robert Frost during the poet’s visit to Dickinson in 1959. When she died suddenly in 2003, Stellfox’s estate provided $1.5 million to the college to continue her mission of inspiring students through literature. Stellfox wished to honor her parents with her gift, so The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program was created and continues to bring renowned literary figures to campus.

While in residency at Dickinson, the distinguished recipient visits classes, holds a seminar for aspiring writers, gives readings and presentations and shares meals with students and faculty. A monetary award accompanies the residency.

Current award winner

Previous award winners

The Dickinson College Arts Award

This award honors an outstanding contribution to the creative or performing arts by an individual or group. Initiated by the Dickinson faculty and endowed in 1959 by gifts from members of the board of trustees, the Arts Award honors Dickinson College President William W. Edel, who presided from 1946 to 1959.

Public Affairs Symposium

The Public Affairs Symposium (PAS), established in 1963, is a student-run organization focused on attracting speakers and holding programs based on an annual theme. The purpose of the symposium is to engage the college and community on a topic of ethical and/or social significance, to encourage continuing dialogue and to increase campus awareness of that subject. PAS has brought distinguished figures in government, business, education, nonprofits and the entertainment industry to campus for lectures, discussions, debates, films and other activities. Previous themes have included Why Can't We All Just Get Along? Civility and Respect in Today's World; Is Privacy Dead?, Living On a Risky Planet; The Power of Food: Pleasure Politics and Culture; and Sex & Social Issues.

The Poitras-Gleim Lecture, endowed by a gift from Ted and Kay Gleim Poitras, is held annually in conjunction with PAS and provides a forum to explore and promote cross-disciplinary thought and communication.

Most Recent Poitras-Gleim Lecturer - Lance Williams and Marc Fainaru-Wada, co-authors of “Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports.”

Previous award winners