About the Prizes

The Nemmers Family

Erwin Esser Nemmers served as a member of the faculty of the Kellogg Graduate School of Management from 1957 until his retirement in 1986. He was a man of wide-ranging interests. Erwin followed his undergraduate work in music with a master's degree in that field. Over the years, he also earned a law degree from Harvard, a degree in aeronautical engineering from Iowa, and doctorates in both economics and law from Wisconsin. His passion for learning was apparently accompanied by a shrewd business sense, and along with his faculty position he held a number of corporate directorships. He and his brother, Frederic Esser Nemmers, were principals in a Milwaukee-based, family-owned church music publishing house. Erwin's entrepreneurial skills and success in the financial markets provided the resources that enabled him and his brother, whom he persuaded to join him in making the gift, to contribute $14 million to Northwestern upon their deaths.

Those gifts were designated by Erwin and Frederic Nemmers for two purposes: the establishment of four endowed professorships in the Kellogg Graduate School of Management and the establishment of the university-wide Nemmers Prizes.

The Frederic Esser Nemmers Prize in Mathematics, established in 1994, is named for the brother Frederic Esser. The Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Economics, also established in 1994, honors the father of Erwin and Frederic Nemmers. The Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, established in 2004, honors their grandfather and the Mechthild Esser Nemmers Prize in Medical Science, established in 2015, honors their mother. The Nemmers Prize in Earth Sciences, established in 2016, is the most recent prize to be added.

Each of these prizes are awarded biennially to recognize works of lasting significance in the respective disciplines. In particular, the prizes recognize major contributions to new knowledge or the development of significant new modes of analysis.

In establishing the Nemmers Prize endowment, Erwin and Frederic Nemmers envisioned prizes in a variety of areas, including not only economics, mathematics, musical composition and medical science, but also possibly future areas such as geology and engineering. Most recently, the Nemmers Prize in Earth Sciences was added in 2016 and became the fifth Nemmers Prize established by Northwestern.