The John D. Wilson / Phi Beta Kappa Essay Contest

The Mu Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa invites applications for the John D. Wilson Essay Contest to recognize excellence in undergraduate writing. The selection committee will award a prize of $500 for the best analytical or interpretive essay. The winning author will also be honored at the annual Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony in the spring.

All essays must be submitted to Sheila Collins, Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Admissions, 104 Burruss Hall (0717), no later than 5:00 p.m., Friday, April 17, 2020.  All submissions may be made electronically, by mail, or in person.

All interested undergraduate students should read the rules carefully. Essay rules, the entry form, and other information are available online:



The Albert Lee Sturm Award for Faculty Excellence

The Phi Beta Kappa Sturm Awards honor the memory of Albert Lee Sturm (1911-1998), a founding member of Virginia Tech’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and a University Research Professor in Political Science. Through these awards, the Mu of Virginia chapter recognizes excellence in research (one award) and in the creative arts (two awards) by our university’s faculty.  

All Sturm Awards honor excellent work that is recognized as significant by a wider, educated audience, not just a narrow group of specialists.

Previous creative arts awards have gone to original works of fiction and poetry, musical compositions, stage and lighting design, and an intermedia arts project. Books recognized by the research award have covered the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, on topics ranging from Moses to Darwin to the White House staff.

Each award consists of a monetary prize to each winner, to be presented at the Phi Beta Kappa spring initiation ceremony. Winners of the Sturm Creative Arts Awards are invited the following academic year to serve as guest speakers at the chapter's Fall and Spring luncheon meetings. The winner of the Sturm Research Award is the featured speaker at the annual Faculty Authors reception in February, for which PBK and the library are co-sponsors.

Who may be nominated?

Virginia Tech faculty (full- and part-time, tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure track, active and retired). Nominees need not be members of Phi Beta Kappa.  

What may be nominated?

Work should be nominated within three years of its original publication, presentation or exhibition. A work may be nominated more than once. Recipients of the award must wait at least five years before submitting another work for consideration.

Who nominates?

Appropriate department-level committees (e.g., personnel, promotion and tenure, executive) or department chairs/heads. Self-nominations and nominations from colleagues are also accepted.

How to nominate?

The deadline for nominations is Friday, March 13, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. Address questions to Richard Phillips. Nomination forms are available online: