The Dean James E. McLeod First-Year Writing Prize

The Dean James E. McLeod First-Year Writing Prize was created to encourage first-year students to begin engaging in research in the early stages of their undergraduate careers; to understand that scholarship is a creative form of expression that can reach others in real and meaningful ways; and most importantly, by fully participating in the process of research and writing, to see themselves as scholars in the making.   

Dean McLeod was a great supporter of intellectual engagement and the transformation that can occur when students immerse themselves in the study of subjects they passionately care about.  He also understood the power of individual mentorship and teaching.    

The McLeod Writing Prize provides first-year students and their teachers a framework within which to work together to produce significant and meaningful pieces of writing for possible publication.  It gives first-year students their first taste of writing for a broader audience and introduces them to research as a significant, valued, and valuable part of the undergraduate experience.  

The long term goal of this prize is to encourage students to seek further opportunities to cultivate their intellectual interests by producing creative and innovative scholarship; to develop ideas they are passionate about into meaningful projects extending beyond the classroom; and to induce them to consider the power of entering larger public discourses by engaging in serious, well thought-out research.   

The Prize

Winners will be announced and prizes awarded at a special ceremony of recognition in the fall (September) of the sophomore year.

Two prizes are awarded each year; one to a student in the College of Arts & Sciences, and one to a student in McKelvey School of Engineering, Olin Business School, or Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Winners receive a certificate of award, $300, and the possibility of publishing their work.

Submission Requirements

An original research paper (8-12 pages of text) that explores some aspect of race, gender and/or identity. The paper may derive from any discipline provided that it is written in English and was created for a freshman seminar or course taken during the first year, taught by a Washington University instructor. Papers can be nominated through self-nomination or by instructors. Only one paper may be submitted per student.

I prefer learning that focuses on the individual and the change that happens when you learn something: a change in the way you see the world, in the way you approach the world.


―Dean James E. McLeod