Samuel Knott Benham '07
B.A., philosophy, politics and economics (PPE); Springfield, Ohio
"Sam, the depth and range of your achievements during your time at Denison have earned the admiration of your peers and rave reviews from your faculty mentors. Excelling in the rigorous PPE major, you bring to your academic work the persistence, discipline, and mental acuity to master complex, difficult material and to convey your understanding in 'carefully constructed, persuasively argued, and always interesting' papers. Your presence in class, to quote one of your teachers, 'ensures that class discussion will rise to the highest level.' As a Young Scholar in 2005 you undertook summer research on how Ronald Dworkin's philosophy of law theory could be employed in a critical examination of the Patriot Act. The result, in the words of your advisor, was 'a truly marvelous analysis ... suitable for a Master's Thesis in any good philosophy of law program.' This coupled with superior class performance earned you the Philosophy Department's 'Harold Titus Award in Social and Political Philosophy.'
"Your capacity for logical argument -- whether demonstrated in a Bullsheet contribution arguing for why Denison should provide pie to all students on Fridays using seventeen of the informal fallacies studied in your logic class or in constructing a carefully reasoned legal brief for Moot Court competition as the co-captain of the team -- is most impressive. Conducting your senior research 'with a diligence and autonomy rare for an undergraduate' you have produced an honors project of impressive merit entitled, 'Git off My Lawn': Eminent Domain and Moral Harm.' Such achievements could lead to intellectual arrogance, but you exude an 'intellectual humility' that would warm the heart of Thomas Aquinas.
"Your intellectual passions connect seamlessly with your co-curricular commitments. You have assumed natural leadership roles on the editorial board of the undergraduate philosophy journal, Episteme, on the committee coordinating the Philosophy coffees, as treasurer of the Denison Objectivist Club, and as treasurer and vice-president of the Denison Community Association. Your three year leadership of the Denison Service Orientation and the Legal Assistance committee of DCA exemplifies your remarkable commitment to social justice and public service. Well deserved recognition followed: a Distinguished Leadership Award, ODK, Mortar Board and Phi Beta Kappa.
"You have modeled civic virtue at Denison. As you move on to law school and a career of legal service we know we know you will be the good citizen representing all that is best of Denison's tradition of liberal education."
Note to media: Link here [jpg]for a downloadable high-resolution JPEG image of Sam Benham.