Cultivating the art of nominations so awards will blossom

Laura Huenneke

By Laura Huenneke, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

At the university’s Research and Creative Activity Awards reception and ceremony earlier this month, it was deeply satisfying to see the significant scholarly achievements and amazing creative work of our faculty and students, and to recognize the mentoring and vision guiding our developing researchers.

The occasion reminded me, though, of how challenging it can be to attract strong nominations for some of our internal awards and recognitions—and how we often miss opportunities to nominate our colleagues for major external awards.

So I have launched a conversation among our academic leaders to better understand what discourages people from nominating their colleagues for recognition and how we might change that situation.

My office will gather and share information on all the university’s major internal awards, such as deadlines, nomination process and links to guidelines. Department chairs or others might make note of outstanding contributions or achievements at any time of year—for example, when doing annual reviews and appraisals—and save that information for use in an upcoming nomination cycle.

A nominator might use some creative teamwork, perhaps drafting an outline of a nomination and then seeking supporting evidence from a colleague or asking a senior staff member to assist in the writing.

Writing strong nominations for awards is an art form, not unlike crafting strong letters of recommendation for our students. I hope that more of us make the effort to seek recognition of our colleagues over the year to come.

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