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Vice Admiral Robert F. Dunn NROTC Prizes

While the Naval Historical Foundation (NHF) has long facilitated an opportunity for the U.S. Naval Academy to bestow an honor for one of our future naval officers, it has not done so for NROTC units, which collectively constitute the largest commissioning source for naval officers. The Vice Admiral Robert F. Dunn Prizes are intended to rectify that situation through facilitating an opportunity for Professors of Naval Science (PNS) to assert command perogative to recognize and reward midshipmen who show future promise as naval officers and encourage all midshipmen to value their history and heritage as part of their ethos.

It is fitting that the prizes are named for Vice Admiral Robert F. Dunn, USN, who retired in 2012 following fourteen years of service as President of NHF. With former duties that included the Chief of Naval Reserve and the DCNO for Naval Aviation, VADM Dunn has a reputation in the Navy’s intellectual community as a thoughtful writer in publications such as the Naval Institute Proceedings. In 2017 he published  Gear Up, Mishaps Down: The Evolution of Naval Aviation Safety, 1950-2000 with the Naval Institute Press.

The Foundation recognizes that NROTC Midshipmen are encouraged to think and write about naval, maritime, Marine Corps and military history as part of their academic work in the Sea Power and Maritime Affairs course that is typically offered in the Spring semester for underclass midshipmen.

Eligibility:  Recognition opportunities will be made available to NROTC Midshipmen enrolled as students in good standing at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

AwardsProfessors of Naval Sciencewill have the option of recognizing outstanding midshipman scholarship through the presentation of Cash Prizes and/or Achievement Certificates.

Selection for Achievement Certificates: Instructors of Sea Power and Maritime Affairs courses may participate in the Dunn Prize recognition program by nominating midshipmen for recognition through the PNS who demonstrated the most mastery of the subject matter.  Instructors may consider test scores, class participation, and writing abilities in deciding on a nominee.  This process should not create any additional burdens on NROTC faculty, given the need to evaluate coursework as part of instructor duties.

If an NROTC unit or consortium hosts multiple Sea Power and Maritime Affairs courses, the PNS can forward multiple nominees to NHF to receive NHF Dunn Prize Achievement Certificates that ideally would be awarded during the following Fall semester.  In addition to receiving a prize certificate, selected midshipmen will be offered a one-year free student membership with NHF and will be encouraged to participate in such NHF academic activities such as the Naval History Book Review program.

Submission Requirements: There are no deadline requirements for Achievement Certificates. The NROTC Unit needs only to submit the name of the Midshipman and the institution he or she is attending to NHF Director of Programs, Dr. David F. Winkler, [email protected]. The names of the Midshipmen and institution will be printed on a certificate template and a congratulatory memorandum and sent back to the unit as an e-mail attachment for printing out and presentation at a time as deemed appropriate by the PNS.

Selection for Cash Prizes:  Instructors of Sea Power and Maritime Affairs courses, recognizing that NROTC midshipmen still incur financial costs in attending college, may take the further step of forwarding an outstanding term or essay paper that may have been prepared by one his or her Prize certificate nominees as part of the course curriculum for additional consideration to receive a cash prize. NHF has budgeted $5,000 for the cash prize program with the intent of awarding:

  • First place: $500
  • 5 regional 1st place: $250
  • 6 regional 2nd place: $100+

Term/Essay Paper Considerations:  Text length, which does not include any preliminaries, title page, end notes or footnotes, should be a minimum of 500 and maximum of 5,000 words.  In other words, the paper must be long enough to complete a thorough argument, but short enough to rivet the attention of a broad audience.

Submission.  Term Paper entries will be submitted through the appropriate PNS or Commanding Officer of the respective NROTC Units.  The PNS for each participating NROTC Unit may forward one paper for each university or consortium university in his/her unit.  For purposes of this competition, students enrolled at crosstown schools shall be considered as attached to either the primary or consortium university.  Obviously, if there are more than one Sea Power and Maritime Affairs courses occurring at an NROTC unit or consortium, a vetting process with class instructors may need to occur.

Submission Format.  A paper submission will consist of a Contact Page, Title Page, and the text proper.

  1. The Contact Page should include the title of the paper, author, current college or university, Class instructor name and contact information for that instructor as well as PNS contact information. During judging, the Contact Page is removed and a code will be assigned to make papers completely anonymous.
  2. The Title page should contain the paper title only – no name, rank, or college affiliation.
  3. The term/essay paper proper begins after the POC information page. Title page, table of contents (if any), tables, illustrations, endnotes/footnotes, appendices and bibliographies will not be included in the recommended word count.
  4. Endnotes are preferred but footnotes are acceptable. Explanatory endnotes/footnotes are discouraged. Main points should be made in the text of the paper.
  5. The text should follow the format of a scholarly research paper (not a bullet paper, talking paper, PowerPoint briefing, etc. If possible, use the Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian, A Manual for Writers, for overall style and format.
  6. Papers must be submitted in electronic MS Word format. Files should not contain desktop-publishing embellishments. Please limit formatting to italics, bold, underline, bullets, or numbered lists.

Judging Criteria. Judges will evaluate essays using the standards of quality that they apply to traditional academic writing, with emphasis on the following:

  1. Innovation – Does the essay demonstrate innovative thinking or understanding?  Does the essay take new lessons from history?
  2. Clarity of Thought and Purpose – Does the essay clearly define an historical issue or problem?  Does it show thoughtful analysis?
  3. Persuasiveness – Is the essay logically organized, well written, and intellectually persuasive?

Submission of Entries/Deadline.  Each PNS submits electronic copies of nominated essays to directly to the Naval Historical Foundation, Attention Dunn Prize Coordinator, e-mail care of: [email protected]. Deadline for annual submissions is 30 June.

Coordinators and Judges.  The President of the NHF will appoint independent judging panels drawn from distinguished Naval Historians, Academicians, and members of the NHF. Judges will select winning and runner up winning papers, first at a regional level and then amongst the regional winners for a national prize.

Notification of Winners:

The NHF will complete the selection process by 30 August and notify NROTC PNSs after Labor Day.  NROTC PNSs will alert NHF of any midshipmen disenrolments that may have occurred immediately thereafter so that runner-up candidates may receive an award. NHF will then prepare Dunn Prize certificates and checks made out to the winning midshipmen for mailing and presentation as determined by PNS.  For papers that were not awarded a cash prize, Certificates of Achievement recognizing the midshipman’s scholastic accomplishment will be prepared and e-mailed back to the submitting NROTC unit PNS for presentation as appropriate.

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