In part to recognize the growing student interest in studying New Haven, Yale will award a prize for the first time this year to a student who writes a senior essay about Greater New Haven.

The Richard Hegel Prize, named in honor of Richard Hegel ’50 and sponsored by the Yale Club of New Haven, will go to the author of an outstanding senior essay about New Haven each spring.

“I felt that it would be a good idea to recognize students who did senior essays on topics related to New Haven,” said Cynthia Farrar, Yale’s assistant vice president for urban policy, who organized the prize.

The Yale Club of New Haven is providing the $500 prize, which will go to a single recipient.

Applications for the inaugural year of the prize are due Friday.

Hegel, the prize namesake, is known for his writings on local history, including his 1981 book “New Haven: An Illustrated History” and “Carriages from New Haven: New Haven’s Nineteenth-Century Carriage Industry.”

“Because of what he does and who he is, it was great to establish this prize in his name,” said Peter Lamothe, executive director of the New Haven Colony Historical Society.

Hegel’s 30-year involvement with the society includes serving as former executive director and a member of its board of directors. He is currently treasurer.

“He is very much a walking, talking encyclopedia of New Haven,” Lamothe said.

Farrar said she initially conceived the essay prize last spring when a Yale student presented a paper on Mary Hillhouse at a local gathering. Hillhouse helped found a school for black students in New Haven, Farrar said.

“This has been an idea I’ve had for a little while because of the increasing interest of undergraduates,” Farrar said.

The Hegel Prize also was started this year partly in recognition of Yale’s tercentennial, according to Farrar.

Susana Greenberg ’01 is one of three ethics, politics and economics majors to write a senior essay about New Haven, according to Arun Agrawal, director of undergraduate studies for EP&E.

Greenberg said she used Greater New Haven as a case study in her senior essay to describe the kinds of regional collaborations that are possible for both cities and suburbs.

“A lot of students do know about New Haven and use it in their research because it’s so accessible,” Greenberg said.

Some students said the Hegel Prize recognizes a growing student trend of writing about New Haven.

“It sounds like a wonderful program with really great timing,” David Haskel ’01 said. “An increasing number of students are now writing about New Haven.”

Haskel is a member of the urban studies colloquium, an assembly of Yale seniors and faculty members that discuss essays related to urban studies.

Farrar said she expects approximately 20 seniors to submit their essays for consideration for the Hegel Prize.

The Hegel Prize judging committee includes professors Alan Plattus, Douglas Rae, Jay Gitlin and Farrar, as well as archivist Judith Schiff.

“If there isn’t a good enough essay, we will not award it,” Farrar said.

The prize will be awarded at the Yale Club of New Haven’s annual meeting May 14.