Student Prizes

Frank Caldiero Humanities Award, Work from the First year

Prize: $500
Nominations Submitted By: HSS 1 & HSS 2 instructors
Eligibility: Students of HSS 1 & HSS 2
Applications Due: May 15th

This newest of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) prizes is made possible by a donation from a student of Frank Caldiero, a longtime HSS faculty member who retired in 1973. It is awarded annually for the finest essay or essays written in HSS 1 “Literary Forms and Expressions” and/or HSS 2 “Texts and Contexts: Old Worlds and New.”

Only essays written during the current academic year will be considered. Clean copies of written work must be submitted via a faculty member, without grades, corrections, or comments from instructors. Essays revised after having been returned by instructors are also suitable for submission; students may use the resources of the Center for Writing for help in the revising process.

The panel of judges will consist of the Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Director of the Center of Writing and Language Arts, and at least two HSS faculty members. In the event of a tie, the award will be split.


Essay Award for Second-Year Core Curriculum

Prize: $500
Nominations Submitted By: HSS 3 & HSS 4 instructors
Eligibility: Students of HSS 3 & HSS 4
Applications Due: May 15th

This prize is awarded for the best essay or group of essays by one student written in HSS 3 “The Making of Modern Society” and/or HSS 4 “The Modern Context: Figures and Topics”.

Only essays written during the current academic year will be considered. Clean copies of written work must be submitted via a faculty member, without grades, corrections, or comments from instructors. Essays revised after having been returned by instructors are also suitable for submission; students may use the resources of the Center for Writing for help in the revising process.

The panel of judges will consist of the Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Director of the Center of Writing and Language Arts, and at least two HSS faculty members. In the event of a tie, the award will be split. Up to two Honorary Mentions may also be presented. If, in the opinion of the judges, no work reaches the desired standard, no prize will be awarded.


The Doré Ashton Prize in Art History, Theory, and Criticism

Prize: $150
Nominations Submitted By: HTA instructors
Eligibility: Students of any HTA course
Applications Due: December 18th and May 1st

This prize is named for Doré Ashton, longtime Professor of Art History on the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences who, though known primarily for her association with the New York School, had interests and activities that spanned the globe. She disliked most forms of academic writing about art. It is awarded annually to the best paper written in an “HTA” (History/Theory of Art) course at The Cooper Union.

The panel of judges will consist of the Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Director of the Center of Writing, and at least two HTA faculty members. In the event of a tie, the award will be split. Honorary Mentions may also be presented. This award is not restricted to graduating seniors, and not restricted to students in the School of Art. Papers may be submitted by students or their faculty in either the fall or spring semester.


The Charles Goodman Essay Award in Humanities

Prize: $250
Nominations Submitted By: Any HSS faculty member
Eligibility: Junior or Senior of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering
Applications Due: May 1st

This award is made possible by a gift from Charles Goodman, Class of 1905, for the purpose of stimulating interest in philosophy. It is awarded annually to a junior or senior in the Albert Nerken School of Engineering at The Cooper Union who submits the best essay dealing with the conflicts in values in contemporary society. The essay may focus on values and the conflicts they engender in literature, the arts, sciences, philosophy, history, politics, ethics or religion. The topic encourages the adoption of a both a personal standpoint and a reflective attitude – hence, “philosophy”.

The panel of judges will consist of the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Director of the Center for Writing and Language Arts, and at least two HSS faculty members. In the event of a tie, the award will be split. Honorary Mentions may also be presented.


The Martin J. Waters Memorial Award

Prize: $500
Nominations Submitted By: Any HSS faculty member
Eligibility: Graduating students of all three schools
Applications Due: May 1st

This prize, establish in 1976, is named for Dr. Martin J. Waters (1940-75), a former Associate Professor of History in HSS who specialized in Irish history and who died unexpectedly in Dublin while on sabbatical conducting research for a book on the relationship between social and geographic mobility and national consciousness. The prize is awarded for overall achievement in HSS courses taken in fulfillment of degree requirements at any of the three degree-granting Schools at The Cooper Union. Only Art and Engineering seniors and fifth-year Architecture students are eligible to apply.

The student applicant should submit a brief cover letter including his/her School and contact address to accompany a selected sampling of written work produced for “H”, “S”, and “HTA” courses at The Cooper Union. It is best to include a variety of work drawn from several courses. Writing may range from research papers to essays to creative work, both short in length and long, and should be representative of the student’s achievement over the entire span of his/her academic career at The Cooper Union. Grades for HSS courses will also be considered by the panel awarding the prize.

The panel of judges will consist of the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Director of the Center for Writing, and at least two HSS faculty members. In the event of a tie, the award will be split. Honorary Mentions may also be presented.


The Raymond G. Brown Memorial Prize

Prize: $200
Nominations Submitted By: Ray Brown Seminar instructor
Eligibility: Students in the Ray Brown Seminar
Applications Due: May 1st

Prize: $ 200 Decided by seminar instructor at the end of semester

This prize honors the memory of Raymond G. Brown, Professor of Economics on the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Cooper Union from 1968 until his premature death in 1983. Professor Brown was born in the Bronx and earned degrees from SUNY/New Paltz and Cornell. During a fifteen-year career at Cooper, he served as Faculty Chairperson from 1972-75. Previously he had served in the Infantry and Signal Corps of the U.S. Army, played semi-pro baseball, worked for the Federal Reserve Bank, been a union organizer in Mississippi, Georgia and Florida and served as Educational Director of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Ray Brown’s academic specialty was labor history, but he was a person of wide and liberal interests who not only thought and wrote about social and political issues but also actively engaged with them.

The Ray Brown Seminar at The Cooper Union, with a variable roster of instructors, was established to reflect and to perpetuate Professor Brown’s interests and values in social and political economy.

The Prize is restricted to students in the Ray Brown Seminar and is awarded annually to the best student by the Seminar’s current instructor.


The Academy of American Poets, Elizabeth Kray Memorial Prize

Prize: $100
Nominations Submitted By: students
Eligibility: all students
Applications Due: April 2nd

This prize, named for Elizabeth Kray, former Director of the Academy of American Poets and established by Pulitzer prize poet W. S. Merwin when he taught at Cooper, is awarded annually for the best poem or group of poems. The Academy, founded in 1934, is the largest organization in the country devoted to the art of poetry. The College Poetry Prize was founded in 1955 and former winners at the over 100 member colleges include Sylvia Plath and many of today’s leading poets. Any student from one of the three degree-granting schools at The Cooper Union may submit. In the event of a tie, the award will be shared. Up to two Honorary Mentions may also be awarded. Students should submit entries, with a brief cover letter, including name and college address, to Cynthia Hartling in the offices of Humanities and Social Sciences by April 2nd. The judge will be Professor Brian Swann. (note that the deadline is earlier than that of the other prizes)


The John L. Alpert Memorial Prize

Prize: $1000
Nominations Submitted By: HSS faculty
Eligibility: Sophomore or Junior of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering
Applications Due: December 15

Named after John L. Alpert ME’ 41 who died in 1986. This prize is awarded to a sophomore or junior from the School of Engineering who shows “exceptional achievement in the humanities. Its purpose is to encourage and reward young engineers to develop their gifts in language as well as technical skill and to cultivate a broad perspective that will serve them well in all aspects of their lives." The panel of judges will consist of the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Director of the Center for Writing, and at least two HSS faculty members. The award is given towards the end of the fall semester.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.