Maddie Sullivan is first to receive Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award

Pictured from left to right: Peyton Parra, Cory Blackmon, Maddie Sullivan, James Luppino, Zahra Hooda, and Jacob SparksĀ 

(Pictured from left to right: Peyton Parra, Cory Blackmon, Maddie Sullivan, James Luppino, Zahra Hooda, and Jacob Sparks) 

The Lutzie 43 Foundation awarded the first Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award to Maddie Sullivan, a sophomore in Auburn University’s School of Communication & Journalism, on Nov. 6, 2017.

In March 2017, the Lutzie 43 Foundation announced that $20,000 had been raised to endow a scholarship in conjunction with Auburn University and bestowed by the W. James Samford, Jr. Foundation in Opelika. Jennifer Johnson, lecturer in the School of Communication and Journalism in the College of Liberal Arts, worked with the Lutzie 43 Foundation and Auburn University to create the award. The W. James Samford Jr. Foundation donated $37,000, and a generous $10,000 donation match by Gus and Kristi Malzahn from the Malzahn Family Foundation helped endow the first scholarship.

A total of 1,026 students applied for the award. The students were narrowed to 50 semi-finalists, with the top six finalists presenting on stage in front of 450 students, teachers, family and friends on Monday, November 6, 2017. The eventual winner, Maddie Sullivan, was the last student to present. 

“While I was definitely nervous by the time it came for me to speak, I found comfort in the fact that my speech was for a greater purpose: honoring a lost member of the Auburn family and celebrating the amazing life he lived. Philip Lutzenkirchen was an essential member of that Auburn community; he lived the life of a true Auburn man, living with humility, boldness, and intentionality. Although I never had the opportunity to meet Philip personally, I felt connected to him and his legacy that night as I spoke,” said Sullivan.

This competition was created for two reasons,” said Johnson. “One, as everyone on Monday evening witnessed, was to showcase the excellent work we see in the classroom every semester. The second, which is deeply personal, was to create an award in Philip's honor.”

“We are grateful for the generous support from the W. James Samford Jr. Foundation, as well as the Malzahn Family Foundation,” College of Liberal Arts Dean Joseph Aistrup said. “This is an inspiring partnership to remember a beloved student. It is clear that Philip Lutzenkirken’s impact went well beyond the stadium, and I can’t think of a more fitting tribute."

Earlier in the year, several Auburn groups and organizations worked to help make the scholarship a possibility. Auburn’s Alpha Tau Omega fraternity chapter hosted a Powder Puff Football Tournament in April 2017, which raised $5,700 to go towards the scholarship. Additionally, the Lutzie 43 Foundation added a $4,300 PFL Character Scholarship, which was matched by an additional $10,000 donation by Gus and Kristi Malzahn.

Philip Lutzenkirchen became a household name during his football career at Auburn, but his impact and legacy extended well beyond his days on the gridiron. As a loving brother, son and friend and devout follower of Christ, he impacted his communities in many ways through service, leadership, mentorship and genuine compassion. At Auburn, Philip graduated with a degree from the School of Communication and Journalism. 

“As the first recipient of the Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award, I am humbled to be able to use a God-given passion for communication to help further highlight the life of Philip Lutzenkirchen and the ongoing work and impact of the Lutzie 43 Foundation. Whenever I look at the award, I will remember the life of Philip Lutzenkirchen and will be reminded to strive for excellence in all I do, to love others with a genuine heart, and to live with a spirit that is not afraid,” said Sullivan. 

Philip’s father and the Director of the Lutzie 43 Foundation, Mike Lutzenkirchen, was present at the event. 

“Our family and the Lutzie 43 Foundation continued to be both amazed and blessed at the level of support for our mission from Auburn University and Alumni,” said Lutzenkirchen. “Jennifer Johnson, Lecturer and Director of COMM 1000 and the passion behind the establishment of the Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award was unknown to us prior to Philip’s passing but has become a wonderful friend. We are grateful for Jennifer and School of Communications and Journalism and look forward to building the award program into an award and Scholarship opportunity for Auburn students. Philip would fully support giving back to the University he loved.”

“The award and scholarship is a direct reflection of the man it is named after,” said Johnson. “I can’t recall anyone who could connect with people the way Philip did. All clear and effective communication boils down to that: connecting with people. And he was a pro at it.”

To donate, or for more information about the Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award, please contact Jennifer Johnson at

About the Lutzie 43 Foundation
The Lutzie 43 Foundation is an Alabama Non-Profit Corporation and 501(c)3 entity which was established in loving memory of Philip Lutzenkirchen. The Lutzie 43 Foundation aims to develop the character of young people and their influencers by focusing on leadership, charity, compassion, mentorship, hard work, honesty and faith through education and real world application. The inspiration for the Lutzie 43 Foundation, Philip Lutzenkirchen, was a remarkable young man that gave of himself to others.  However, it was through a series of poor decisions that led to his tragic death.  The Lutzie 43 Foundation hopes that through its mission and support programs others will know and understand Philip’s living legacy, and most importantly, learn from his death.  All funds contributed to the foundation will be used to establish and support programs consistent with its mission.


Last Updated: November 14, 2017