Mary Eliza Parker Award for Excellence in Nutrition and Dietetics


Mary Eliza Parker, scholar and creative thinker, was a pioneer in college curriculum planning and a leader at Western Reserve University.  She was a native of Boston and graduate of Wellesley College with a major in classics.  She came to Cleveland to help establish a Department of Household administration and to serve as Head of that Department from 1913 to 1937.  Nutrition was an essential component in the Department.  The first student identified as a dietitian graduated in 1918.  Graduate programs in nutrition were instituted in 1929 under Miss Parker.  The Department of Household Administration later became the Department of Home Economics and then, in 1963, the Department of Nutrition.

The Mary Eliza Parker Award was established in 1938 by students of Miss Parker who were graduates of Flora Stone Mather College.  The group earned monies to be invested as principal so that the interest could be used as a prize.  Since that time, the award has been given by the Department to an undergraduate student majoring in Nutrition or Nutritional Biochemistry & Metabolism at the end of the Senior year to honor quality of college work, appreciation of the social significance of the field, and personal qualities contributing to future performance.

The award is presented as part of the CWRU undergraduate award ceremonies and comes with a cash award and a certificate.

Eligibility and Applications

To be eligible to receive the Mary Eliza Parker Award, students must be:

  • an undergraduate student with a declared major in nutrition or nutritional biochemistry and metabolism;
  • a junior or senior;
  • in good academic standing.

Please note that students who receive this award as a junior are not eligible to apply again as a senior.

Applications will open early in spring semester each year.  Applications for the 2023-2024 academic year are now closed.

Selection Criteria

Eligible students must be able to demonstrate (and document) sustained and outstanding participation in nutrition-related activities beyond required coursework.  Students who demonstrate and document sustained involvement, as defined by the department, between the semester of major declaration and the application semester will be recognized with the award.


  • Paid or unpaid, for credit or not for credit
    • If the mentor is a primary nutrition faculty member, this is automatically counted.
    • If the mentor is not a primary nutrition faculty member, with each 100 hours completed and documented, the student must submit a one-page summary of their research indicating how it is nutrition related.


  • Volunteerism or leadership for food- or nutrition-related organizations on- or off-campus, domestic or international
    • Pre-approved organizations include Cleveland Foodbank, Student Dietetic Association, Food Recovery Network, CWRU Diabetes Prevention Program, and peer mentorship within Nutrition department.
    • Students who work with another organization not already on the list must submit a summary of the organization’s mission and their own work with the first 25 hours, if approved the organization will be added to the pre-approved list going forward.


  • Serving as a teaching assistant for a Nutrition prefix (NTRN) course.

Other Food- or Nutrition-Related Work

  • Other paid work related to food or nutrition with prior departmental approval (e.g., diet aide, menu planner, Prevention Research Center work).  Server, dishwasher unlikely to be approved, but can be submitted for consideration.