This prize was originally established through an 1854 gift from Hon. Aaron Clark, former mayor of New York City. According to a contemporaneous New York Times article, “Mr. CLARK received his academic education at Clinton, and has not forgotten the friends and benefactors of his youth.” He was awarded an honorary degree from Hamilton in 1838.  It was later reestablished in 1892 through a gift from the Fayerweather estate and supplemented with an award from Henry A. Clark.
The 2024 winner will take home $2,500 and will be recognized at the Class and Charter Day ceremony.


The Clark Prize is open to all senior students in all disciplines. 


The Clark competition requires a speech that addresses the assigned topic. The prize will be awarded to the senior who, through both content and delivery, most effectively addresses the assigned topic. 2024's topic is:

Shakespeare’s Juliet mused “What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” Often entities (e.g., companies, organizations) and individuals change names; for example, Twitter was rebranded as X. For this year’s Clark Prize, answer Juliet’s question: What’s in a name?

Preliminary Round

To participate in the 2024 Preliminary Round, record a video of your speech and submit it to this Google Form. Be sure to check out our tips for virtual presentations. Scoring criteria are listed below.

All recordings must be a single take. That is, you may not splice together different recordings to make one complete speech.

Final Round

Each final round competitor will submit a detailed outline or manuscript of the final speech. Each final round competitor will present a six to eight minute speech. Speeches should not be read from a script. Scoring for the final round will be based on the same criteria as the preliminary round, with 10% reserved for evaluation of the content based on the submitted materials.


The judges will assign scores on two broad areas: content/organization and delivery. 

  • Content is relevant to speech prompt and maintains a focus appropriate for the audience (Hamilton community).
  • Clear organization was followed consistently throughout the speech.
  • Speech consistently used evidence that was appropriate for the topic (e.g., narrative, statistics) and was cited as appropriate.
  • Language use was appropriate for audience (e.g., avoided jargon) and occasion.
  • Logical connections were clearly made between ideas within the speech.
  • Speaker’s use of vocal qualities (volume, pitch, emphasis) enhanced the presentation.
  • Nonverbal behaviors (gestures and eye contact) enhanced the presentation.
  • Speaker was fluent (e.g., avoided fillers such as “um”) and conversational.
  • The speaker was engaging throughout the presentation.
  • The overall presentation was consistently persuasive.

Recent winners


Samuel Lieberman '23, "Do Androids Dream of Public Speaking?" | video

Cherry Zhang '22, "How Productive Should I Be? Reflections on the Meanings of Work" | video

Lily Delle-Levine '21, "Time for Change: Social Media as Social Action" | video


Haotian Yang '20, "Getting Out There: Make Diversity Happen" | video


Emily Aviles '19, "The True Price of Higher Education" | video


Ryan Bloom '18, “Don’t Follow the Yellow Brick Road: A Defense of the Open Curriculum” | video


Jake Blount '17, "Modern Conservatives and the Myth of Campus Censorship" | video


Office / Department Name

Oral Communication Center

Contact Name

Amy Gaffney

Oral Communication Center Director

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