The Writing Excellence Awards are given annually to encourage and reward good writing in all disciplines. The contest opens in January each year (for papers written in the previous calendar year for courses taken at the University of Puget Sound). Winners are usually announced in April. The Writing Excellence Awards are funded by the Hearst Endowment for Writing, established through grants from the Hearst Foundation.  The submission deadline for this year's competition is Friday, February 9, 2024.

For the 2024 competition, a total of ten prizes ($250 each) will be awarded for papers written in the 2023 calendar year:  

  • Two prizes in each category: Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • One prize each for First-year Seminars, Connections, and Graduate Programs
  • One prize for a paper written on a topic related to race and pedagogy, regardless of the course in which it was written.

Submission category details

Rules for the Contest

Papers written as part of the requirement for courses taken at the University of Puget Sound during Spring, Summer, or Fall of the previous calendar year are eligible during each round of the competition. Papers of any length may be submitted; short papers are as likely to win as long ones.

Students may submit no more than one paper in each category. The same paper may be submitted to two categories only if one of the categories is the Race and Pedagogy category. 

See detailed instructions here.


If you have any questions about the process or the prizes, please contact Professor Lea Fortmann ( 

Award announcements

Results of the competition are announced in April, and award winners in each category will be honored at an academic celebration toward the end of the spring semester.  Congratulations to all of the winners!

The award-winning papers from 2023 (written in 2022) are as follows:

 Arts and Humanities​

Sigrun Eide-Payne, "Midnight's Children and Sacred Games: The Significance of Lost Stories," written for ENGL 430 with Prof. Priti Joshi

Audrey Reiss, "L'Opéra-Comique et Les Maisons de Débauche: Prostitution and Power in Mid-Eighteenth Century Paris," written for HIST 400 with Prof. Doug Sackman


Carolynn Davies, "A Leap of Faith: Necropolitical Subjecthood in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," written for CONN 305 with Prof. Mengjun Li

First-year Seminars

Claire Bargman, "An Unexpected Benefit of Outlaw Emotions," written for SSI1 146 with Prof. Sara Protasi

Graduate Programs

Miles Looman-Nelson, "Project Proposal: Brucellosis-Syria," written for PH 623 with Prof. Sara Fischer

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Spencer Racca-Gwozdzik, "Modeling Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories," written for Math 301 with Prof. Jake Price

Chaylea Tome, "The Role of MMP-2 on Collagen Degradation in Skeletal Muscle after Functional Overload in Adult Mice," written for EXSC 495 with Prof. Jung Kim

Race and Pedagogy

Miles Z, "The Racial Value of 'Bad Art'," written for ARTH 325 with Prof. Rachel Silberstein 

Social Sciences

Sophia Pivnik, "Hidden Adversity: Disclosure Among Other Overlooked Negative Outcomes of Invisible Disabilities," written for PSYC 401 with Prof. Sarah Moore

Paige Saller, "The Panamanian Puzzle: Successful Democratization and Foreign-Imposed Regime Change," written for PG 322 with Prof. Patrick O'Neil

Viewing winning papers 

Winning papers from the most recent contest and prior years can be viewed in Sound Ideas, Puget Sound's site for sharing the intellectual and artistic work of Puget Sound students and faculty.  

Departmental writing awards

In addition to the university-wide Writing Excellence Awards, many departments also have departmental writing awards. Students are welcome and encouraged to submit papers to both university-wide and department-specific writing competitions.