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Benedum Distinguished Scholar Awards

Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award Application

The Benedum Distinguished Scholar Awards recognize distinction in research, scholarship or creative activity. (Hereafter, all references to "research" include scholarship and creative activity.)  Distinction may be reflected in either a single recent achievement in research, or an extended and still ongoing career of distinguished research.  Awards of $5,000 in professional support will be available, with the possibility of four awards each year - one in each of the four areas of endeavor.  Awards will not be made in any category for which a suitable candidate is not found.  We are extremely grateful to the University's Distinguished Professors for providing leadership in the establishment of this award and to the Claude-Worthington Benedum Foundation for their continued financial support.


The sole criterion for judgment is recognition of excellence in creative research. Creative research is expressed in ways unique to different areas of endeavor, thereby rendering meaningful comparisons across areas exceptionally difficult. Distinction can be recognized and evaluated based on standards of the specific discipline or disciplines to which the research pertains.  The disciplines are divided primarily into the four broad areas of endeavor listed below.

      a.   Behavioral and Social Sciences

      b.   Biosciences and Health Sciences

      c.    Humanities and the Arts (including the Performing Arts)

      d.   Physical Sciences and Technology

Examples of research include (a) developing new information, (b) critically examining new and/ or old information, (c) writing scholarly essays, and (d) creative works (e.g., novels, plays, works of   art, artistic   performance).  These four examples are not exhaustive.  For the first three examples and similar research, the reports of the work must be intended for a professional readership, the reports must be available to the intended readership through publication in refereed journals or in books, and the work must significantly extend the boundaries of knowledge in the discipline or disciplines to which it pertains.  For the fourth example and similar research, the material must be widely available to the intended audience through production in an appropriate medium; the critique of the work should be by professionals; the rigor with which the  work is judged should be similar to candidates engaged in "traditional" research; and the candidate should show evidence of creating rather than simply re-creating. Artistic performance must be informed by documented creative research.

Judging "excellence in creative research" will include but not be limited to evidence that (1) the work presented must be of demonstrably high quality as measured by its author's reputation among his/her peers; (2) the work presented must have attracted national/ international  attention;  and  (3)  the work presented must be seen as having an influence upon the discipline with which it is associated.

Awards will be made without regard for departmental or disciplinary affiliation, core area, or type of research. An award for distinction in the area of the Humanities and the Arts, for example, could be earned by a member of a science department, and an award for distinction in Physical Sciences and Technology could be earned by a member of a humanities department. The areas identified above are areas of scholarly distinction rather than areas or faculty appointment.

Selection Committee

The Selection Committee consists of present and emeritus faculty holding distinguished professorships in the University, as well as selected past recipients of the awards.  The Committee will have recourse to external assistance and advice in reviewing the nomination and application documents.

Eligibility for Award

All faculty members holding a continuing appointment, at any rank, including those serving in administrative positions, are eligible for the award upon nomination or application for consideration.

The recipient of a previous Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award is not eligible for a future award for research in the same category.

Because research in the same category cannot earn more than one award, only one award can be made for collaborative work. One of the collaborators may be nominated or may apply for the award, or the collaborators may be jointly nominated or may jointly apply.

In the former case, the nominee or applicant should be the major contributor, and a statement of the proportional contribution he or she made to the work is to be included. In the latter case, the collaborators will share the award, if an award is made, but no collaborator will be eligible unless he or she holds a continuing appointment as a faculty member at West Virginia University.

Period Covered by Award

Creative scholarly distinction may be reflected in a single achievement or in an extended, ongoing career.  For a single achievement, the period covered by the award is the past three years; for a career, the period covered is not limited, but the career must include activity within the past three years.  Normally, one's record produced while at WVU will be given strong consideration.

Award Ceremonies

Recipients will be recognized at the University Honors Event in the spring.

Candidates deemed qualified for an award in a category in which another candidate was named recipient will be notified that their dossier will be carried forward for consideration in the subsequent year.  Such a candidate will be given the opportunity to update documentation that was originally submitted.


Each application must be submitted as a PDF file and include the following documents in order to be considered:

  1. The Benedum Distinguished Awards Application must specifically identify one disciplinary area for which the nominee is to be considered.
  2. A one-page nomination letter if applicable.
  3. Two (2) one-page non-blind reference letters of support.
  4. A two-page narrative describing the research that is to be considered.  The narrative can include the reasons for considering it outstanding, including its context (e.g., the nature and scope of the scientific, social, or other problem addressed; the place of the research in the development of science, society, or other context) and documentation to support these reasons (e.g., a compilation of data from a Citation Index, favorable reviews and other evidence of impact; if Citation Index data are to be considered, they must be supplied as part of this documentation; and samples or relevant publications, playbills, or similar material appropriate lo the discipline. A representative sample is preferable to submission of a complete record). Should additional information be required, the selection committee will notify the nominee. For collaborative research, the contribution of the candidate should be clearly identified.
  5. A five-page up-to-date abridged curriculum vitae of the candidate, focusing on research productivity.
  6. A list of five or six possible referees who are experts in the relevant discipline or disciplines, most of whom are outside West Virginia University, and at peer research institutions.  Please provide complete address, telephone, and e-mail information.

Applications must be received and submitted as a PDF file, with all required documents, by Monday, February 5, 2024. No late applications will be accepted. Applications, including the required documents, are to be uploaded to Digital Measures under Archived Reports and Documents in Other Submissions. Please select the current Academic Year, select Award: Benedum Distinguished Scholar in the submission type and upload your materials in the Initial Faculty Submission.  Any applications that are incomplete at the deadline or exceed the limitations on maximum length of twelve (12) pages, including the cover page, will not be considered.

For additional information, please email or call 304-293-2021.