Brandeis U. Graduate Wins Journalism Prize

March 01, 2010

Ben Terris, a 2008 graduate of Brandeis University, has won The Chronicle's David W. Miller Award for Young Journalists.

The $1,000 prize was awarded to Mr. Terris for three articles published in The Chronicle during his fall internship here. In making its selection, the Miller committee cited Mr. Terris's dogged and balanced reporting, topical range, and artful prose.

In "Secretive Scholars of the Old South," Mr. Terris examined the Abbeville Institute, a group of scholars who prefer to maintain a low profile as they study topics, like secession, that they argue are off-limits in most of academe. Mr. Terris started thinking about the article during a 15,000-mile road trip he took with a friend after graduating from college.

"In Columbia, South Carolina, we ended up at a store that sold Confederate flags and patriotic bumper stickers," Mr. Terris says. "The guy who owned it was a professor, who told me about the Abbeville Institute. At The Chronicle I took the opportunity to find a higher-ed angle to the story."

In a lighter story, "Bodybuilding Professors Outmuscle the Stereotypes," about female professors who are also serious bodybuilders, Mr. Terris described how that sideline influenced, and was influenced by, their scholarly work.

And in "Computer Labs Get Rebooted as Lounges," he reported on a cultural shift on college campuses, as the computer labs that were once a staple have been phased out or transformed.

Mr. Terris now lives in western Massachusetts, where he is writing freelance articles and fixing up an old house.

The Miller award commemorates David W. Miller, a senior writer at The Chronicle, who in 2002, at the age of 35, was killed by a drunken driver.

With the award, The Chronicle seeks to honor Mr. Miller's insistence on accurate and fair reporting, his curiosity about people and ideas, and his commitment to great writing. The Chronicle also hopes to recognize up-and-coming reporters who show those qualities. The award is given three times per year to a recent Chronicle intern, based on three articles submitted by each candidate.