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Ruth C. Schaffer Award

The Ruth C. Schaffer Award, established in 2005, recognizes high achievement by a graduate or undergraduate student who has published a research paper in a peer-reviewed journal or written a research paper accepted for presentation on a regular or section session panel of the American Sociological Association meetings during the year in which the award is made.

The award is named in honor of Ruth C. Schaffer, who was hired by the University in 1971 and taught in our department from 1972 through 1991, when she retired and was appointed Professor Emerita. A student of Rupert B. Vance and Floyd Hunter, she conducted community research throughout her career. She carefully traced networks of power and showed how cliques used resources to gain their objectives, even when doing so sometimes violated ideals of equality and social justice. As a member of the University’s Minority Affairs Committee, she tirelessly urged the University to develop a more diverse faculty, staff and student body. Known for the long hours she spent with students, insistent that they learn to do good research and write well, she was much beloved by them. In 1982, she received the College-Level Teaching Award from the Former Students Association. She died unexpectedly in 2003.

If you would like to support this award by contributing to the Ruth C. Schaffer Memorial Fund, select the Department of Sociology and the Sociology Department Excellence Fund in the Texas A&M Foundation.

Eligibility for Ruth C. Schaffer Award

All graduate or undergraduate students in the Department of Sociology are eligible to compete for the Schaffer Award who have met the following criteria:

  1. The student must have written a sole-authored paper or is one author of a multi-authored paper written with another undergraduate or graduate student each of whom is in all other ways eligible for the award.
  2. The paper must have been (a) a research paper published or accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal or (b) written a research paper accepted for presentation on a regular or section session panel – but not including presentation at a roundtable or poster session of the American Sociological Association meetings during the year in which the award is made, or (c) the paper has been accepted for publication as a research monograph with a recognized academic press.
  3. The students must be currently registered and in good standing with the University at time the award is made.
  4. If the paper is co-authored with other students, only those co-authors who are currently registered and in good standing with the University are eligible to share in the monetary award.
  5. If the paper is co-authored, none of the co-authors are members of the faculty of the department or of any other department in an institution of higher learning.
  6. Students are eligible to receive the award one time only.

Selection for Ruth C. Schaffer Award

The Student Awards Committee will issue a call for applications for the award in early April of each spring semester in the academic year. The call will include a certain date that applications are due that is no earlier than two full weeks after the call was issued.

Members of the Student Awards Committee will read all papers submitted in support of student applications for the award. The Committee shall consist of no fewer than three tenured or tenure-track faculty in the department.

A committee member may not discuss or evaluate papers submitted by a graduate student if they also sit on that student’s dissertation or thesis committee. Should this problem arise, the department head may appoint additional members of the committee to ensure that each paper is read by at least three faculty members who are not the student’s advisors.

If, in the committee’s judgment, no paper among the papers submitted meets the standard of excellence, then the committee may choose to give no award. The committee will announce its decision no later than the last business day in May.

Ruth C. Schaffer Award Details

The author (or co-authors) of the winning paper receive an award, to be paid as a credit against tuition and fees owed to the University during the next semester in which they are registered. Co-authors eligible to share in the award will split the award equally.

Past Ruth C. Schaffer Award Winners

2019 Stephanie Ortiz
2019 H. S. Wang and Tiffany Amorette Young
2018 Katie Constantin and Bruce Reese
2017 Beatriz Aldana Marquez
2016 Apryl Williams
2015 Zinobia Bennefield
2014 Jenny Savely
2013 Rachel A. Feinstein
2012 Juanita Garcia
2012 Alesha Istvan
2011 Eugenia Conde
2010 Jenny Davis
2009 Jennifer Mueller
2008 Rosalind S. Chou
2007 Kristen Lavelle
2006 D’Lane Compton
2005 Karen S. Glover