Phoenix Prize

Established in 1994, The Phoenix Prize is the highest faculty recognition the Division can bestow. It is awarded only periodically to those who, through the course of their careers, have changed the trajectory of research in the social sciences and have thus contributed to the cycle of intellectual renewal across the disciplines. It is this sense of renewal that is encapsulated in the prize's name, drawn from the symbol of the University of Chicago.


James Coleman
University Professor of Sociology

Professor Coleman devoted his scholarly career to the creation and use of new social-science methodology and theory that illuminated major issues of public policy. His early research on schools and schooling helped shape government policy on racial integration and school busing. The best-known outcome of his research was "Equality of Educational Opportunity," commonly known as the Coleman Report (1966). The study made pioneering use of large data sets to help provide answers to an important group of public-policy issues. Throughout his career, Coleman was known for having the courage to change his stance on issues in light of new data.


Marshall Sahlins
The Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology and Sociology

As an ethnographer and historian, Professor Sahlins’ work explores Polynesia, particularly the cultures of Fiji, New Guinea and Hawaii. His books include How "Natives" Think: About Captain Cook, For Example (1996); Anahulu: The Anthropology of History in the Kingdom of Hawaii, Vols. I & II (1992), which he co-authored; Islands of History (1985); Historical Metaphors and Mythical Realities: Structure in the Early History of the Sandwich Islands Kingdom (1981); Culture and Practical Reason (1976), and Stone Age Economics (1972). He is the first person to twice receive the Laing Prize, which is awarded annually to the University faculty author, editor or translator of a book published by the Press in the previous three years that brings the Press the greatest distinction. He received the award in 1998 and in 1977.


Gary Becker, AM'53, PhD'55
University Professor of Economics and of Sociology

Professor Becker illuminated how economic decisions influence people’s lives. His work extended economic analysis to decisions made by families, the effects of discrimination on minorities’ earnings and employment, and how changes in family composition affect inequality and economic growth. Becker authored or co-authored many seminal works, including Social Economics (2000), The Economics of Life (1997), Accounting for Tastes (1996), A Treatise on the Family (1981), The Economic Approach to Human Behavior (1976) and The Allocation of Time and Goods Over the Life Cycle (1975). Becker received the National Medal of Science in 2000 and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992.


Robert E. Lucas, Jr., BA'59, PhD'64,
The John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Economics and the College

Professor Lucas is renowned for a deep, broad understanding of Chicago Economics that has afforded him the ability to consider its ideas critically and to evolve its traditions. He not only built upon those traditions, but transformed them, creating a modern dynamic economics uniting macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics in ways that have allowed for more precise quantitative studies of alternative economic policies. Among his books are Studies in Business-Cycle Theory (1981); Ra­tional Expectations and Econometric Practice (1981), co-edited with Thomas Sargent; Models of Business Cycles (1985); and Recursive Methods in Economic Dynamics (1989), with Nancy Stokey and Ed­ward Prescott. His Lectures on Economic Growth were published in 2002, and Collected Papers on Monetary Theory in 2013. He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1995.


John T. Cacioppo
The Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Psychology

From his classic work on attitude change and emotional contagion to his groundbreaking work on the interdisciplinary field of social neuroscience to his deep and revealing work on social isolation, Professor Cacioppo’s pioneering work focused on human and animal investigations of the multi-level interactions between neural, hormonal, cellular, and genetic/genomic mechanisms underlying social structures and processes. While most research in neuroscience focused on the individual, the new discipline examined the associations between social and neural development and evolution from a multi-disciplinary perspective. He is recognized as one of the top psychologists of the modern era and is the recipient of distinguished scientific contribution awards from various societies in psychology and the neurosciences.