Letter To The Editor

Calling all writers: Enter the McKinney Contest

By Barbara Lewis '99 February 20, 2019

Have you written an excellent paper for one of your classes? Maybe a persuasive or researched essay?  Do you write poetry or short stories in your spare time? Do you have a digital project or video that relies on language as well as images? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you can enter the McKinney Competition!  

Rensselaer may be known for its work in engineering and the sciences, but for 78 years, the school has sponsored a writing competition. An 1884 graduate of Rensselaer Samuel P. McKinney created the McKinney Writing Contest in 1941 as a memorial to his wife. Since then, for nearly eight decades, the competition has served as a positive force encouraging student writing.

The competition awards prizes in both graduate and undergraduate divisions, in four categories of writing:  fiction and drama, poetry, essay and creative nonfiction, and electronic mixed media using language. The first prize is $300, the second prize is $175, and the third prize is $75. Even better, a win in the contest looks wonderful on your resumé or CV.

Who decides the winners? Since its inception, the McKinney Writing Contest has been organized by the Department of Communication and Media, and entries have been judged by expert and published writers, most of them faculty members in that department. Specific instructions for entering the contest and submitting your work are posted on the department website.

Winners will be awarded their prizes at a ceremony on April 3, held in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Auditorium. McKinney awards ceremonies feature a reading by a celebrated writer: past speakers have included Kurt Vonnegut, Joyce Carol Oates, and William Kennedy. This year, Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls and Nobody’s Fool, will read from his work and award prizes to the winners.

Sort through what you’ve written, check out the instructions on the website, and get your entries together over Spring Break. You can enter twice in every category. The deadline for entries isn’t until 4 pm on Tuesday, March 12.  Take the time to enter and add your voice to this Rensselaer tradition!

Dr. Barbara Lewis ’99