Illinois State University
Illinois State University
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Scholarships and Awards

A distinguished teacher and scholar, Helen M. Cavanagh taught history at Illinois State University from 1945 to 1972. Over her career she guided the completion of sixty-five master’s theses, an achievement that contributed significantly to the reputation of the department’s master’s program. Upon her death, Dr. Cavanagh bequeathed to the department an endowment that has enabled the department to recognize the achievements of its graduate students.

The recipient of the Helen M. Cavanagh Prize for the Best Master’s Student is chosen each year during the spring semester from among master’s students who have reached the approximate mid-point in the degree program in history at Illinois State.  Selection is determined by a departmental committee on the basis of the candidate’s academic achievements, quality of written work in history, statement of intent in the study of history, certification of ability and intent to complete the degree, letters of reference, and at the selection committee’s discretion an interview.  The Cavanagh Prize is awarded at a departmental awards event.  The recipient traditionally offers a brief address of response to the award.  The award normally carries a stipend of $5000.

The department awards two additional awards, one for the best masters thesis in American history and the second for the best thesis outside American history. The awards are chosen each year from among Master’s theses completed in the history department during the academic year, September 1 through August 31.  Candidacy in the selection is automatic upon final approval of the thesis and deposit of a copy in the History department.  Criteria for evaluation includes

  • clarity of purpose and methodology
  • range and depth of sources
  • organization and analysis
  • literary style
  • and contribution to the discipline, either as original scholarship or as synthesis.

Selection is determined by a departmental committee, and both prizes are awarded at a departmental awards event.  Each award usually carries a stipend of $500.


2010 Spring Award Winners

Helen M. Cavanagh Award for Best Master's Degree Student

Jamie Grasser

Email History

Department of History
Normal, Il 61790-4420
Phone: (309) 438-5641
Fax: (309) 438-5607