I am pleased to announce a new era in the long-standing “Outstanding Senior Award”  (AKA, the “Outstanding Graduating English Major Award”).

Each spring, the Assistant Chair distributes a list with the names of all graduating English majors with a GPA of 3.8 or higher in the major to the English Department faculty for a vote.  Among these outstanding English majors, the Assistant Chair asks, which senior is the most outstanding?  Because the votes come from professors who have worked closely with these students and know the nuances of their performance and possibilities in English Studies, this is arguably the most prestigious annual award in the department.  It’s all very wonderful and exciting.  But here’s the sad part of this history:  before this year, there was no fund attached to this award.  No money.  Well, there was some.  In the week before the Awards Ceremony, we faculty would pass a hat and gather some cold hard cash in small bills to present to this special student.  While the generosity of the faculty was lovely, it was never enough (not that honor and acclaim doesn’t beat monetary gain, of course, but you know what I mean).

Enter a group of current and former English Department faculty with a desire to let this annual exceptional graduate know how much we value brilliance and commitment in English Studies.  An official “Outstanding Senior Award” was established at the Ball State Foundation and for the first time ever, this year’s Outstanding Senior will receive a check for $1,000.

Students:  don’t go clicking around desperately for the application.  You won’t find one.  Your good grades will put you on that email ballot, and all the smart comments you’ve contributed in class, exemplary papers you’ve written, stunning sonnets you’ve crafted, and so on, will earn you those important votes (not to mention the difficult days you’ve chosen to remain charming and collegial!).  So keep doing those things.  (And look here for a complete list of undergraduate scholarships and awards that do require an application; note that this year’s deadline is Friday, March 4, 2011 by 5 p.m. and that many of the awards require short letters of recommendation—and yes, you may apply for more than one award if you’re eligible.)

Alumni, parents, and anyone in a position to donate to this not-yet-endowed fund:  please consider contributing a gift to help us celebrate the achievements of our distinguished graduating seniors for many years to come. Please make your check out to Ball State University Foundation, and include the fund number #2760 on the memo line (mail to: Ball State University Foundation, Alumni Center, Room 230, 2800 West Bethel Avenue, Muncie, IN 47304) or donate online (again, be sure to specify #2760).

I’m looking forward to tallying the votes this year and learning the identity of Outstanding Senior 2011.  Keep up the good work!


Jill Christman