The Newcombe Fellowship, funded by the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, is the largest and most prestigious award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values in interesting, original or significant ways. As a Fellow, Prendergast receives a 12-month award of $30,000 to support the final year of her dissertation writing.
Currently a doctoral student in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Prendergast is studying moral and political philosophy. Her research and teaching interests include feminist philosophy, philosophy of social science and philosophy of education. She is completing her dissertation, titled "The Moral Authority of Citizens."
Since its creation in 1981, the Newcombe Fellowship has supported over 1,300 doctoral candidates with essential time and resources to complete their writing. Newcombe Fellows have gone on to be noted faculty at domestic and foreign institutions, leaders in their fields of study, Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur Fellows and more.
"I feel honored to join the ranks of the Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellows and to have my research supported by the Institute for Citizens & Scholars," said Prendergast. "I will always be grateful for the excellent teaching and guidance I received at Millikin University in my philosophy courses with Dr. [Robert] Money, Dr. [Eric] Roark and Dr. [Michael] Hartsock. In my dissertation research, I continue to think about philosophical questions I first grappled with in their courses."
As an undergraduate at Millikin, Prendergast was a James Millikin Honors Scholar pursuing a major in philosophy and a minor in music. Among her many extracurricular activities, Prendergast took part in Millikin's Moot Court program where teams of student-attorneys participated in the Model Illinois Government Moot Court Competition held each spring in Springfield, Ill. At the 2013 competition, Prendergast's team was honored as runner-up for Most Outstanding Moot Court Team, and she was awarded for Most Outstanding Moot Court Attorney.
Prendergast's academic achievements and scholarship accomplishments at Millikin also led to her receiving the 2012 Scovill Prize, the highest academic honor that Millikin can bestow upon a student.
Dr. Robert Money, chair of the Philosophy Department and director of Pre-law and Moot Court at Millikin, said that while he is extremely proud of Emma's accomplishments, he is not surprised.
"As a student, Emma was an excellent thinker and a great writer. Her participation in Moot Court helped her develop equally impressive oral argument skills. I am not surprised that she is flourishing in the philosophy program at Wisconsin-Madison, an outstanding nationally ranked graduate program. To be honored with a Newcombe Fellowship is a clear affirmation of the quality of her dissertation and to be one of only 22 recipients chosen out of 460 applicants from across the nation...well, it is quite incredible," said Money.
In addition to her academic performance at Millikin, Prendergast demonstrated commitment to campus and community leadership. She served on the student senate and was a first-year experience mentor where she aided new students in the transition from their previous school to Millikin. She was active with numerous organizations including Model United Nations, Philosophy Club, Women's Choir and Delta Delta Delta. She also co-founded Millikin's chapter of Phi Sigma Tau, the international honor society in philosophy.
Dr. Anne Matthews, associate professor of English at Millikin, said Prendergast wanted to be a scholar, not only for the sake of academic success but for the love of learning. "She held herself and her classmates to a very high standard, and in a cohort of honors students, that standard is very high indeed," Matthews said.
The Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship is a crucial part of the Citizens & Scholars portfolio in higher education, helping promising scholars generate momentum, strengthening fields of study, and preparing new generations of citizens through their teaching and research.