The Department awards the Frankena and Haller Prizes for outstanding achievement. Haller Prizes are awarded for individual essays submitted in courses. The Frankena Prize is awarded for excellence in the concentration. The Department automatically considers eligible students.
The William K. Frankena Prize is awarded yearly in the spring to a graduating major for excellence in the major. First awarded in 1991-92, the Frankena Prize is funded by the Marshall M. Weinberg Endowment for the Frankena and Stevenson Prizes. Recipients of the Frankena Prize have attended graduate school in Philosophy at Berkeley, Cornell, Harvard, MIT, North Carolina, Princeton, Stanford, and UCLA, as well as Harvard, Michigan, NYU and Stanford Law Schools and Dartmouth Medical School.
William Frankena was a towering figure both in moral philosophy and its history. His research extended to the philosophy of education and social philosophy. He was known for his integrity, courage and forthrightness, and his dedication to the fundamental values of a university. He was a member of the Michigan Department of Philosophy for forty-one years, serving as chair from 1947-1961. When he was awarded emeritus status in 1978, the Regents noted that "he is renowned for his learning in the history of ethics, a subject about which he is generally believed in the profession to know more than anyone else in the world." In addition to his other accomplishments, Frankena was chair of the Council for Philosophical Studies from 1965. to 1972, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fellow hip from the Center for Advanced Study of Behavioral Science.
Elsa L. Haller (1886-1973) received the Ph.D. in Philosophy from Michigan in 1958, at the age of 72, writing a dissertation on Karl Jaspers. She had received the B.A. from Michigan in 1908 and the M.A. in Philosophy in 1922. She published a monograph on Heidegger in 1970.
The Haller Scholarship Endowment, established in 1974, is used for Haller Prizes, awarded for outstanding overall performance in 400-level Philosophy courses (excluding PHIL 413 - PHIL 418) and—occasionally—for essays of exceptional merit written for these courses.
In 2010 the Department extended the original Haller Prize award to include overall exceptional achievement in Philosophy. This award is determined based on students' overall grade point average and participation in departmental activities.