Awards & Scholarships

Set forth below are awards and prizes granted by the department, along with lists of some recent past winners. These awards typically carry cash gifts (usually on the order of hundreds of dollars), with specific amounts that may vary from year to year. 


The Department of Philosophy Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award

This award, funded by a donation from the Robert G. Wengert family, is for excellence in undergraduate teaching. It can be given to either a faculty member or graduate student who has been an independent instructor, in accordance with the following instructions:

The net income from the Fund shall be used to provide awards to faculty or graduate students who exemplify excellence in undergraduate teaching in the Department of Philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Chair of the Department of Philosophy, or designee, shall determine the recipients, amount, and timing of the awards to be given, in consultation with faculty as appropriate and practicable, subject to the approval of the appropriate University officials.

* Note: This award was previously called the “Robert G. Wengert Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award" but, in accordance with the family's wishes, is now called the "Department of Philosophy Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.”

  • 2023: Zach Biondi
  • 2022: Jochen Bojanowski & Shelley Weinberg
  • 2021: Jonathan Livengood
  • 2020: Helga Varden (combined this year with a more general faculty teaching award)

The Distinguished Graduate Student Teaching Award

This award is bestowed annually on the department’s best graduate student instructor. Decisions are based on student evaluations, faculty observations, and any other evidence that a graduate student has exceeded normal expectations in terms of effort and innovation. The Prizes and Scholarships Committee announces the award in an open letter to the department, which describes what makes the graduate student's teaching exceptional.

  • 2023: Andrew Smith
  • 2022: Robert Vanderbeek
  • 2021: Ashli Anda
  • 2020: Brittany Currie
  • 2019: Seungil Lee  
  • 2018: Andrew Smith
  • 2017: Clay Alsup

The C. E. Caton Award

This award is granted as part of an annual writing competition, in which all graduate students in the philosophy department are welcome to submit a piece of writing for consideration. The Prizes and Scholarship Committee reads each submission and ranks them overall in terms of features such as writing style, clarity, ambition, and the extent to which the author is able to defend the paper’s main thesis.

  • 2022: Robert Vanderbeek
  • 2021: Nick Louzon
  • 2020: Seungil Lee
  • 2019: Steve Mischle

The Shwayder Philosophy Prize 

This prize is awarded as part of a writing competition, in which any graduate or undergraduate student may submit an entry, subject to the following restrictions. 

To be considered for the Shwayder Prize, a paper must address a topic in “first philosophy.” The term "first philosophy" is no longer widely used in philosophy, and there no indisputable definition of the term. Anyone applying for the prize must therefore provide a short description of why they believe the submitted essay discusses a topic in first philosophy. 

When determining whether particular papers are eligible for this award, it should be noted that papers that address foundational questions in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, meta-ethics, logic, and the formal philosophical languages (including syntactic/modal logic, mathematical logic, semantics, and formal epistemology) will typically qualify. By contrast, papers that presuppose the validity of certain theoretical, practical, or aesthetic principles and then seek to apply those principles to specific cases will typically not qualify, In between these two categories are papers in any area of philosophy—from history of philosophy, ethics, and religion to philosophy of science, physics, and experimental philosophy—that call for a lengthier justification for why and how the paper, despite initial appearance, may address questions in first philosophy.

Submissions should be between 5,000 and 10,000 words, including bibliography and notes. A student who wins this prize in one academic year cannot win another departmental essay prize the same academic year.

  •           2022: Emily Ann Pasete

The Donald W. Doerscher Award

This award goes to one or more graduating senior philosophy majors, who — over many courses in philosophy — have shown the highest consistent level of performance throughout their career in the major.

  • 2022: Francis Fabian & Jack Warshawsky
  • 2021: Rebecca Eng
  • 2020:
  • 2019: Ali Akhatar & Xiuhao Chen
  • 2018:
  • 2017: Gracie Reinecke 

The Howard F. Crombie Scholarship

This scholarship goes to one or more philosophy majors of freshman, sophomore, or junior year standing who have demonstrated academic merit and distinction in the study of philosophy.

  • 2022: Meghan Reynolds
  • 2021:
  • 2020:
  • 2019: Jacob Kokeris & Anna Stephens
  • 2018:
  • 2017: Jessica Shung

The Lois S. Green Scholarship

This undergraduate scholarship is awarded from time to time —but not necessarily annually — to one or more promising undergraduate students who are studying or intend to study philosophy.

  • 2022: Sanketh Bhaskar, Natalie Hartl, Emily Ann Pasetes, Jack Popovich, Clay Ward & Yixiao Xiong
  • 2021: Alexander Sardjev
  • 2020:
  • 2019: Sam Bhagwandin, Theonesse Cheon & Sebastian Solewski
  • 2018:
  • 2017: Alexander Motchoulski, Kyung Min Song, Kuizhi “Lewis” Wang, Ryan Woods & Syed Muhammad Yousef

Distinguished Graduate Student Service Award

  • 2022/2023: Ana Romero and Dan Durso