CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is creating a new award that will be given annually to students, faculty or staff who exemplify qualities of integrity and moral courage.

In a society that is increasingly focused on competition and economics, a reward for those who have the courage to make tough decisions and take high moral ground is more important than ever, according to OSU emeritus professor Robert G. Mason, who is funding the award with his family. Mason worked for OSU’s Department of Statistics and retired about a decade ago.

“This might be more embedded in professional schools that have ties with industry, but sometimes the moral values of the academic can be in conflict with the ethical values of the business community,” Mason said. “Sometimes you have a choice whether to ignore your academic responsibilities or to take the more difficult path. This prize will reward the person who travels the moral high ground.”

The Mason Prize for Integrity and Moral Courage will be administered by OSU’s Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word. Spring Creek director Kathleen Dean Moore said the Mason family – Robert, his wife Sue, and daughters Laurie Robbins and Nancy Vandell – have united around the idea that the academic community has moral responsibilities and that role models who exhibit these qualities should be celebrated.

“This prize is about honesty, courage, about telling the truth even when it’s not popular, convenient or conventional,” said Moore, a distinguished professor of philosophy at OSU. “We’re looking for someone who shows independence of mind, integrity, and consistency of thought and action.”

The annual award of $1,000 will be given to one person each spring. Students, staff and faculty of OSU are eligible.

Nominations rules are available at

Moore said nominators should tell the story, in 200 words or less, of why their nominee exhibits these characteristics of courage and integrity.

“We really want nominations for students and staff who may not be in positions of power, but who are doing extraordinary things, often without recognition,” she said.

The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, March 14. Nominations can be sent to Spring Creek Project at 101 Hovland Hall, Department of Philosophy, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331 or through e-mail at


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Kathleen Dean Moore,