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Class of 1879 Prize for Outstanding Projects in the Humanities

Awarded by

The Class of 1879 Prize is awarded by the Humanities & Arts department yearly for excellent work in the culminating project for the Humanities & Arts Requirement. These projects must demonstrate exceptional creativity and skill in conceiving, developing, and expressing a theme within any discipline in the humanities and arts.  

History of the Prize

WPI has recognized exemplary work in the humanities and arts since 1872, when the department of English and Modern Languages established an award for the best paper in composition classes. At its reunion in 1900, the Class of 1879 endowed this prize for a paper "on a topic of general interest." The endowment was continued by Spencer Miller 1879, who wanted “to encourage graduates of the Institute to develop the art of clear and lucid English in the discussion of engineering subjects.”  The Class of 1879 Prize was then awarded annually to the best term paper in the departments of English, History, and Languages until the adoption of the WPI Plan in 1970. In 1983, the department of Humanities & Arts began to award the Class of 1879 Prize to the best Humanities Requirement Projects.  

The Class of 1879 Prize has evolved alongside WPI.  Today’s prize-winning projects rarely concern engineering subjects, and some aren’t even traditional essays.  But we still honor the spirit of Mr. Miller’s prize, to encourage and reward the highest achievements of human expression. 

Details for each year's competition are announced in November/December, with a deadline for submission in January. For information on the competition and how to submit your project for consideration, please contact the HUA office at ext. 5246 or at

Note: Prizes awarded for projects completed the previous year.

Browse Class of 1879 Prize for Outstanding Projects in the Humanities awardees

Year Recipient Award level Type Details
1995 John D. Kedziora Winner Undergraduate

"The Failure of Command," advisor: James E. Watters

1995 Nancy L. Round Winner Undergraduate

"The Origins of Violent Behavior: A Look at Behavior Genetics, Modern Biology, Serotonin, and the Ethics Involving Criminals," advisor: Thomas A. Shannon

1995 Patricia L. Panlillo Winner Undergraduate

"Toni Morrison's Women: Strengths and Variations," advisor: Laura J. Menides

1994 Karl F. Dicker Winner Undergraduate

"A Comprehensive History of Black Baseball," advisor: Deborah Gray

1994 Scott J. Higgins Winner Undergraduate

"Who Am I? The Problem of Identity," advisor: Bettina Bergo

1994 Shaun P. Heaney Winner Undergraduate

"The Construction of New Union Station: A Product of Worcester's Grade Crossing Problem," advisor: James P. Watters

1993 Ahmed S. Al-Baiti Winner Undergraduate

"Decorative Art of Door Carving on Zanzibar and Pemba Islands," advisor: David Samson

1993 Christopher G. McKeever Winner Undergraduate

"From an Alphabet to Strange and Interesting Designs: an Analysis" of Musical Notation," advisor: Douglas G. Weeks

1993 Henry R. McTague Winner Undergraduate

"Do Animals Have Rights?," advisor: Bettina Bergo

1992 Chad L. Council Winner Undergraduate

"From Love Comes the Pieces of a Broken Heart - A Play," advisor: Susan Vick

1992 Kevin M. Parker Winner Undergraduate

"The Society of Friends - Antislavery Pioneers," advisor: Steven C. Bullock

1992 Lily Lau Winner Undergraduate

"The Monster in the Closet of Our Souls: The Gothic and Wuthering Heights," advisor: Joel Brattin

1991 Eric R. Bell Winner Undergraduate

"Reagan Administration Foreign Policy Toward Dictatorships: A Comparative Study"

1991 Matthew R. Bontell Winner Undergraduate

"The Flood: A Suite for Brass Quartet"

1991 Stephen T. Kapushoc Winner Undergraduate

"The Knowledge and Vision of Loren Eiseley"

1990 Athena Demetry Winner Undergraduate

"The Individual in Israeli and Palestinian Literature"

1990 Bernard L. Dion Winner Undergraduate

"The Risk of Slavery: Warning Through Structure in 'Benito Cereno'"

1990 John A. MacNeill Winner Undergraduate

"Tellurian Suite for Synthesizers, Clarinet and Flute"

1990 Joseph M. Sabatini Winner Undergraduate

"The Machine Gun as a Reflection of America Industry"

1989 Jeffrey L. Quirke Winner Undergraduate

"Tragedy and the Gothic," advisor: Kent P. Ljungquist

1989 Paul F. Wojiak Winner Undergraduate

"Obstinacy and Naïveté: The Organized Labor Movement in Worcester, Massachusetts, During the 1930's," advisor: Robert L. Kolesar

1989 Sharon A. Savage Winner Undergraduate

"How the Organic and Mechanistic Conceptions of Life Apply to the Body and to Medicine," advisor: Iris Young

1988 Christopher J. Buntil Winner Undergraduate

"Give and Take: Anencephalic Babies as Organ Donors," advisor: Thomas A. Shannon

1988 Jeanette M. Cheetham Winner Undergraduate

"The Mask: a Window to Understand the Eskimos," advisor: Ruth Smith

1988 Marc J. Champagne Winner Undergraduate

"American Gas Mask Research During World War I," advisor: W.A. Bland Addison

1987 Edward C. Hein Winner Undergraduate

"A Psychological Assessment of Lee Iacocca," advisor: Patrick P. Dunn

1987 Richard D. June Winner Undergraduate

"William Carlos Williams' Paterson: the Voice of a Nation," advisor: Laura J. Menides

1987 Shawn D. Harrison Winner Undergraduate

"Niépce, Daguerre and Talbot: the Motives Behind the Men," advisor: E. Malcolm Parkinson

1986 Chrysanthe Demetry Winner Undergraduate

"Healing and Growing: American Civil War Fiction," advisor: John Zeugner

1986 Nancy Teasdale Winner Undergraduate

"I Don't Have to Cry for the Rest of My Life," advisor: Susan Vick

1986 Robert Provost Winner Undergraduate

"African Percussion," advisors: David McKay and Richard Falco

1985 Charles Champagne Winner Undergraduate

"Konrad Adenauer Erster Kanzler der Bundesrepublik," and "Ahnlichkeiten zwichen der Franzozischen Revolution und der Deutschen Revolution von 1848"

1985 Jeanne M. Benjamin Winner Undergraduate

"Pet-Facilitated Therapy for the Elderly"

1985 Rita Patel Winner Undergraduate

"The Light Burning in the Heart: A Comparative Analysis of the Concepts of the Soul in Hinduism, Plato, and Aristotle"

1984 Barbara Jean Gray Winner Undergraduate

"The Development of American Blackfaced Minstrelsy"

1984 Daniel Weinshenker Winner Undergraduate

"Facing Nuclear Threat"

1984 Walter F. Precourt, III Winner Undergraduate

"Henry V: Shakespeare's Ideal King"

1983 JoAnne Shatkin Winner Undergraduate
1983 Julie Anne Beberman Winner Undergraduate
1983 Martin Joseph Pierce Winner Undergraduate