About the Academic Ambassador Award

Benjamin Cooper
Benjamin Cooper. Photo courtesy of Susan Ikenberry.
The Benjamin Cooper Academic Ambassador Award is an annual award presented by PACE to recognize an individual or organization whose above-and-beyond contributions to the quizbowl community embody, by example, the ideals of academic competition. The original Cooper Award was named in honor of Benjamin Cooper, a student at Georgetown Day School who had been named captain of his team prior to his untimely death on August 12, 1997. The Cooper Academic Ambassador Award has been awarded at every NSC since PACE’s founding.

In 2004, PACE added the Benjamin Cooper Young Ambassador Award, which specifically recognizes the contributions of under the age of 25. Many winners of the “Young Cooper” award were high school or college students at the time when they were recognized.

The original resolution establishing the Cooper Awards reads as follows:

Whereas many teams are well recognized by the strength of their winning programs, sportsmanship and service to the academic competition community are not well appreciated. These virtues not only make academic competitions possible, exciting, and enjoyable, but also are fundamentally necessary for the further growth and promotion of this game at all levels of play. By recognizing individuals or organizations that by their example embody the positive aspects of academic competition, all participants involved in quiz bowl honor the competitive spirit and comraderie that quiz bowl competitions provide.

To encourage the appreciation of these individuals and organizations, be it resolved that the Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence establish a Sportsmanship and Service Award. This commendation is to be presented to a high school academic competition team member, advisor, or organization whose character best promotes the spirit and honor of quiz bowl competition.

To establish a precedent and standard for future recipients of this award, the PACE committee has further resolved to establish, present, and dedicate this award to the memory of Benjamin E. Cooper of the “It’s Academic” team of Georgetown Day School in Washington DC, as the Benjamin Cooper Memorial Quiz Bowl Ambassador Award.

Benjamin Cooper was a model student at Georgetown Day School who was well-liked among his colleagues and the faculty. He participated in many activities in school and in service to the community. Because of his enthusiasm and encouragement to promote academic competition among his team members, he was selected as the captain of the varsity team for the 1997-98 school year. On August 12, 1997, Ben was tragically killed in an automobile accident while returning from his summer job. His death was traumatic to his family, the GDS community, and the members of the PACE committee who corresponded and worked with him. Even when discussing quiz bowl and the PACE network with us, the PACE committee was impressed with his enthusiasm about the upcoming year and our plans for the inaugural NSC.

The members of the PACE committee hereby honor and confer the first Quiz Bowl Ambassador Award to team advisor Sue Ikenberry and the Georgetown Day School academic team in Ben’s honor. The GDS team has had a long history of promoting excellence in quiz bowl competition in the Washington, District of Columbia area and around the country, particularly through its web site.

This citation is hereby approved for presentation for June 19, 1998, at the inaugural National Scholastics Championship at Case Western Reserve University.