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New award will bolster Stamps School graduates’ big ideas

By Shaun Manning

The Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design has created a new $25,000 prize to advance the project of one graduating senior.

The Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design has created a new $25,000 prize to advance the major, ambitious project of one graduating senior.

The Big Idea Award, made possible by the Stamps family and other supporters, honors the late Penny W. Stamps and will be given annually to a student selected by an external review committee, nominated by Stamps faculty and representing a range of expertise.

The new award was inspired by Stamps’ call to action at her April 2018 commencement speech delivered to the school that bears her name.

“What’s your big idea?” she asked the assembled students. “What are you willing to spend your moral capital, your intellectual capital, your sweat equity in pursuing outside the walls of the University of Michigan? You have your artistic skills, now develop your ideas — your big idea. Imagination has no limits.”

The inaugural Big Idea Award will be given out at the Stamps School commencement on May 2nd, and is open to graduating art and design majors only. The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2020.

Applicants for the Big Idea Award will be evaluated on their submission of one singular, ambitious “Big Idea,” as well as their commitment to bring their moral and intellectual capital to bear in its creation.

Applicants will need to describe any skills and experience relevant to achieving their “Big Idea” as well as evidence they can successfully execute the project.

The Big Idea Award is the latest student-focused initiative sponsored by the Stamps family. Penny Stamps, a 1966 U-M graduate who died in 2018, and her husband, E. Roe Stamps, created the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation and the Roman J. Witt Artist Residency Program.

They also fund for the Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series, the Stamps Gallery on Central Campus, and Stamps Creative Work Scholarships. They also have engaged in numerous other philanthropic endeavors throughout campus.

In addition to the Big Idea Award supporting one ambitious project, Stamps School Dean Guna Nadarajan sees it as a call to action for all art and design undergraduates.

“This is an opportunity for the entire community to envision the boldest of futures for their biggest ideas,” he said.

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