Wendell Phillips Address at Baccalaureate Ceremony
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.
2023-2024 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 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 email@example.com or 617-627-3427.
Timeline for the 2023-2024 nomination and selection process
Monday, November, 6, 2023
Nomination form opens
Monday, December 11, 2023
Nomination form closes at 11:59 p.m. ET
Thursday, December 14, 2023
University Chaplaincy notifies all nominees
Monday, January 29, 2024
Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. ET
Friday, February 23, 2024
University Chaplaincy notifies all finalists and non-finalists
Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Finalist auditions. All friends and family of the finalists, and anyone in the Tufts community is welcome
Friday, March 15, 2024
Committee on Student Life votes, and the Wendell Phillips Speaker is chosen and notified by 5 p.m. ET
Saturday, May 18, 2024
The selected finalist will speak at the 2022 Baccalaureate Ceremony