McPartlin Award


Each year, the University Writing Program hosts an essay competition. Founded in the early 1990s by Stephen McPartlin, this award honors excellent writing by first year students at the University of Notre Dame. Three awards are given, and winning essays are published in Fresh Writing, the annual journal of the best essays written by first year students.

First, second, and third place winners will receive $300, $250, and $200 cash awards, respectively, and certificates commemorating their achievement.

Guidelines for Faculty

  • Professors may each nominate one essay written by a student enrolled in the professor’s Writing and Rhetoric or University Seminar course during the 2020 spring or fall semesters. The essay must be based on work undertaken for that course.
  • The nominated essay must make an argument about a given topic.
  • The essay may include original research by the writer.
  • The essay may not exceed fifteen pages of text (excluding works cited).
  • Professors should obtain students’ written permission to enter the essay in the contest and to publish it in Fresh Writing.
  • Nominations should be submitted using the form provided at: 

    Nominations must include a brief explanation of the assignment and a statement explaining why the essay is worthy of consideration. Be sure to include both the instructor's name and the student's name in the nomination letter.

Guidelines for Students

  • After the essay has been nominated by the professor, the student will submit to the professor an electronic copy of the essay that has been nominated. The professor will then forward the essay to the editor of Fresh Writing, using the form provided at:
  • The essay may incorporate revisions based on the professor's final comments on the it, but the essay should not contain instructor comments.

Essays that do not meet these guidelines do not qualify for the contest. Contest winners and nominating faculty will be invited to attend an awards ceremony in the spring semester, where the winners will be recognized.

The deadline for submission of student essays is Dec 4th, 2020. Earlier submissions are welcome and appreciated.

For more information, contact Nathaniel Myers and/or Joanna Lin Want