History Senior Ben Press Wins Pyne Prize

February 14, 2020
Ben Press

Princeton University seniors Emma Coley and Ben Press have been named co-winners of the 2020 Moses Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, the highest general distinction conferred on an undergraduate. They will be recognized at a luncheon during Alumni Day on campus Saturday, Feb. 22.

The Pyne Honor Prize, established in 1921, is awarded to the senior who has most clearly manifested excellent scholarship, strength of character and effective leadership. Previous recipients include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, former U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes and the late Princeton President Emeritus Robert F. Goheen. 

Ben Press

Press, of Vienna, Virginia, is a history major pursuing certificates medieval studies and history and the practice of diplomacy. He is a recipient of the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, as well as the Department of History’s Stone-Davis Prize and Carter Kim Combe ’74 Prize.

“I can’t begin to describe how honored I am by this recognition,” Press said. “The Pyne Prize, however, does not belong to me alone. It belongs to all those who have invested in me, who have seen fit to take time to guide me in being a better student, scholar, leader and citizen.”

He continued: “I’m so thankful for the professors, administrators and staff who have shared insights with me, going above the call of duty to embolden my disparate academic interests and guide me through this spectacular University. Above all, I’m thankful for my friends and family, who have encouraged me at every step of the way — especially my mom, who, though she passed away in my junior year, never wavered in her belief in me.”

Press has held a number of leadership roles on campus. He is a member of Butler College and served as chair of the Butler College Council, as well as chair of the Undergraduate Student Government’s (USG) group of U-Councilors. In his role as U-Council Chair, he co-led the USG’s mental health task force and served on the Council of Princeton University Community. 

He has been an active member of the Princeton Model UN Team and served as deputy team captain, winning outstanding and best delegate awards at multiple conferences.

William Chester Jordan, the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History, said Press “stands out even among Princeton students.”

Read more at Princeton University News.