The Elizabeth R. Bennett Scholarship, established in 1972, is the Department's "junior" award. It is usually given to students at the Sophomore or Junior level and serves as a gateway to "senior" awards such as the Most Outstanding Major Award or the Brahana Prize. Many recipients of those latter awards started out by earning the Bennett Scholarship.
Elizabeth Bennett was the first woman to receive a PhD in mathematics from the University of Illinois, and the second PhD overall to be granted from the department. She was born in 1880 in Shawnee, PA, and received her AB degree in 1903 from Ohio University in Athens, OH. She received her master's degree in 1908 and her PhD in 1910 with a thesis on "Primitive groups with a determination of the primitive groups of degree 20," written under the direction of G. A. Miller. The thesis was later published in the American Journal of Mathematics, Vol 34, No. 1, pp1-20. Her first position was as an Instructor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. She returned to the Department of Mathematics at the University of Illinois and held the position of Instructor of Mathematics from 1918-1921.