Dr. Michael N. Compton Public Affairs Essay Contest

2018 Winning Essay - Ms. Delaney O'Donnell, Senior-Animal Science major

Equi-Librium Therapy Center - Ms. O'Donnell's matching donation

Picture features essay winner, Delaney O'Donnell; Mr. Kent Crumpley, Executive Director of Equi-Librium; Mr. Bob Reed, President of IDEAL; and members of the MSU Alpha Rho Chapter of Sigma Pi Fraternity. 

2018-2019 Contest information to be posted soon!  

Missouri State University’s spring 2018 Public Affairs Conference will feature the third annual Dr. Michael N. Compton Public Affairs Essay Contest. The author(s) of the winning essay will receive a cash prize of $500, plus an additional $500 to be donated to the charity or non-profit organization of the winner’s choice, in their name. In addition, the winning work will be published on the MSU Public Affairs website.

The contest is sponsored by the Institute for Development of Ethics And Leadership—IDEAL. IDEAL is a non-profit organization established by the alumni of the Alpha Rho Chapter of Sigma Pi Fraternity at MSU with the mission to further the development of ethics and leadership in the men of the fraternity. Dr. Compton, a 1970 graduate of MSU, wanted IDEAL to support the Public Affairs mission of the University. He envisioned an essay contest as the vehicle for achieving that support. The conduct of the contest is a joint undertaking between the Alpha Rho Chapter, IDEAL, its alumni, and the faculty and staff of MSU.

Please direct questions regarding the contest to the Office of Public Affairs Support at 417-836-8832 or PublicAffairs@MissouriState.edu

Call for Submissions

Entries will be accepted January 16 - March 4, 2018. This contest is open to all current Missouri State University full-time undergraduate students attending on the Springfield campus. Essays will address the 2017-18 public affairs theme. Submissions may address an individual aspect of the theme or the theme as a whole.

All submissions are kept anonymous during judging. Names will be removed and replaced with an identifier prior to being submitted to the judging committee. The winner will be announced no later than March 30, 2018.


  • Essay must be the original work by the person submitting the essay.
  • Essays may be any length between 250 and 1500 words.
  • Submit a cover page that includes the following:
    • Your full name (kept anonymous during judging).
    • One to two sentence biographical statement about yourself, including your hometown.
    • List your academic year and interest of study or if declared, list your degree program and name of College.
    • What aspect of the theme your essay is addressing and the total word count.
    • The name of the charity or non-profit organization that you would choose to receive the cash award should you win the contest.
  • The judging committee will consider clarity, spelling, grammar, and mechanics, as well as the originality and compelling nature of idea(s).
  • Inclusion of evidence-based ideas is encouraged, but not required.

Entry Submission

  • Email your cover page and essay as one PDF document to PublicAffairs@MissouriState.edu
  • Deadline: Submissions must be emailed prior to midnight (11:59pm) on Sunday, March 4, 2018.

2017-18 Public Affairs Theme Description

Essays should address MSU’s 2017-18 public affairs theme, Sustainability in Practice: Consensus and Consequences. Submissions may focus on an individual aspect of the theme or the theme as a whole.

When one considers the notion of sustainability, the first thoughts that come to mind are often focused on the natural world. Sustainability is a word that immediately conjures images of the seas, mountains, and wildlife. Yet, sustainability in practice is much broader. With its foundation firmly in the natural sciences, sustainability also encompasses societal components that reach every corner of human behavior: government, business, education, the arts, medicine and human services.

According to Merriam-Webster, the simple definition of sustainable is “able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed; able to last or continue for a long time.” If we are living in a crucial moment that will impact our very existence, how shall we respond? For example, to what extent have strategies addressing issues of climate change, water scarcity and limited oil reserves been effective? Why does public opinion often differ from contemporary scientific understanding? How can citizens separate facts from an abundance of biased narratives and false dilemmas? When policies are made, which “story” is told? How do we provide sustainable equality in our schools and food for a hungry and growing population? What is the future of medical care in light of our aging population and healthcare management? What role may the arts play in supporting sustainable practices in society? What insights on stewardship can be gained from religious doctrine and devotion? Given the complexity of sustainability in relation to human socio-environmental behaviors, is it even possible to re-balance the globe and provide a more definitive future for our children and generations to come?

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