Open Menu Close Menu Open Search Close Search

History of the Award

Wendell Phillips was a nineteenth-century attorney, orator, abolitionist, and advocate for women's and Native People's rights. The Wendell Phillips Address is intended to deliver a message to inspire the graduating class and all who are gathered to reflect on how a Tufts education, and specifically the experiences of the graduating senior class, might help make the world a better place through constructive civic engagement.

The Wendell Phillips Award was established in 1896. The award is given annually to a senior who demonstrates both marked ability as a speaker and a high sense of public responsibility. Selected by the Committee on Student Life, the winner is the one graduating senior invited to offer a speech as part of Commencement, and the speech takes place during the Baccalaureate Ceremony. The speech is intended to deliver a message about civic engagement in our time.

2021 Wendell Phillips Speaker

Atrey smiles at the camera

Congratulations to Atrey Bhargava, the 2021 Baccalaureate Ceremony winner. Atrey is a senior graduating with a degree in International Relations and Economics. He is from Lucknow, India and is passionate about the intersection of economics, technology, and policy development. Through his years at Tufts, he has been the President of the Tufts Middle East Research Group, a member of the Tufts Debate Society, the Institute of Global Leadership, and 180 Degrees Non-Profit Consulting. He studied abroad at the Tufts-in-Oxford program during his junior year and is going to be working as an economic analyst after graduation. Atrey's speech will be recorded as part of this year's Baccalaureate Ceremony video.

2021 Nomination Process

Faculty, staff, and students may nominate seniors to apply to be the Wendell Phillips Speaker, and seniors many self-nominate. All nominated students will be invited to submit an application, including a letter of application, a resume of leadership and service activities, and a recorded speech.

Applications are reviewed by the Committee on Student Life (CSL), and the CSL will invite finalists to present brief speeches at an open forum during the spring semester, virtually or in Goddard Chapel on the Medford campus. The CSL will then select the winner. This award also carries a cash prize.

The University Chaplaincy assists the CSL in the administration of the award. For more information, please contact the University Chaplain, Reverend Elyse Nelson Winger at or 617-627-3427.

Nominations for the 2021 Wendell Phillips Speaker closed on Monday, December 14 at 5 p.m. ET. Thank you to those who nominated an exemplary Tufts senior.

Timeline for the 2020-2021 nomination and selection process
Monday, November 30, 2020 Nomination form opens - find the 2021-2021 nomination form here. 
Monday, December 14, 2020 Nomination form closes at 5 p.m. ET
Thursday, December 17, 2020 University Chaplaincy notifies all nominees
Monday, February 1, 2021 Applications are due by 5 p.m. ET
Wednesday, February 24, 2021 University Chaplaincy notifies all finalists and non-finalists
Wednesday, March 17, 2021 Finalist auditions. All friends and family of the finalists, and anyone in the Tufts community is welcome.
Friday, March 19, 2021 Committee on Student Life votes, and the Wendell Phillips Speaker is chosen and notified by 5 p.m. ET

Flyer for Wendell Phillips nomination; all information on website

You can download the flyer here.

Previous Wendell Phillips Award recipients:

2020 - Leticia Priebe Rocha

2019 - Ria Mazumdar

2018 -  Anna Del Castillo

2017 - Isabella Kahhale

2016 - Sharad Sagar

2015 - Michael Maskin

2014 - Jessica Wilson

2013 - Kristen Ford

2012 - Allister Chang

2011 - Brian Agler

2010 - David Mok

2009 - Anjali Nirmalan

2008 - Alexandra Pryor

2007 - Casey Beck

2006 - Mauricia Artinano A06

2005 - Eitan Hersh A05

2004 - Candace J. Gomez A04

2003 - Elaine P. Wang A03

2002 - Michael W. Ferenczy E02

2001 - Thea Lavin A01

2000 - Keshia Pollack J00

1999 - Alexander R. Shalom A99

1998 - Andrea D. Friedman A98

1997 - Eric A. Pliner A97

1996 - Ancy Verdier A96

1995 - Sarah L. McGinley A95

1994 - Adam Tratt A94

1993 - Randy Ravitz A93

1992 - Sharon Wachsler J92

1991 - Jonathan C. Cutler A91

1990 - Myra M. Frazier J90

1989 - Daniel A. Feldman A89

1988 - Michael D. Epstein A88