AASCU Excellence and Innovation Awards

Purpose and Description of the Awards

The purpose of these awards is to recognize and honor AASCU institutions demonstrating excellence and innovation in their approach to achieving student success, regional and economic development, international education, teacher education, and leadership development and diversity.

The awards provide a means to collect and disseminate information about successful, replicable programs and practices and to support campus efforts to improve their institutions.

Award recipients will receive an engraved sculpture and recognition at the AASCU Annual Meeting, in the AASCU magazine, Public Purpose, and on the AASCU website. AASCU will also acknowledge award recipients in national media outlets and take other steps to ensure public recognition of award winners’ accomplishments.
Jump to the Application Form (below)


AASCU member institutions (including system offices) that have demonstrated significant and intentional support for a program or programs in one or more of the award categories may apply. Support can be demonstrated as significant and intentional in the form of sustained effort over a period of time or as support and backing of a single major effort or initiative. Evidence that the program or initiative has achieved measurable outcomes is essential. Evidence of results may be quantitative or qualitative. 

General Criteria

  1. There is evidence of executive level support and engagement in ensuring the success of the program or initiative;
  2. The program or initiative is connected to the institutional vision, mission and strategic agenda and supports institutional change;
  3. There is evidence that the program or initiative has led to significant institutional improvements or innovative programming; and
  4. The program or initiative is grounded in research and incorporates best practices in the field.
In addition to these general criteria for the awards overall, each award category specifies additional criteria that award applications must address.

Award Categories

Student Success and College Completion Award

The Student Success and College Completion Award honors institutions that achieve significant improvements in student success and college completion. This award focuses on two specific metrics: year-to-year retention and graduation rates. Special consideration will be given to institutions using the Student Achievement Measure (SAM), which uses National Student Clearinghouse data to measure success.

Specific Criteria for the Student Success and College Completion Award: 
  1. The institution must demonstrate remarkable progress and achievement in student retention and graduation;
  2. Progress must serve as a benchmark for institutional success for similar institutions; and
  3. The institution must provide concrete examples for other institutions to adapt and use on their campuses.   
AASCU Contact: George Mehaffy, Vice President, Academic Leadership and Change

Regional and Economic Development Award

Institutional excellence in regional and economic development can involve campus activities that: demonstrably promote innovation and technology transfer to local businesses, non-profit organizations or governments; improve regional competitiveness and prosperity; foster entrepreneurial activity on the campus and in the community; and address workforce development/job creation issues. The impact of regional and economic development on the campus also must be considered. Changes in the curriculum, the engagement of students and faculty members, and increases in sponsored projects funding are all important components of an effective regional and economic outreach initiative.

Specific Criteria for the Regional and Economic Development Award:
  1. The institution must outline the extent to which external organizations were involved in the planning and implementation of the project. Both length and depth of involvement will be considered.
  2. The institution must explain the degree to which there were quantifiable benefits from the project demonstrating impact on the quality of the local workforce, job creation or other economic or community impact.
  3. The institution must explain the degree to which faculty and students were engaged in project development or implementation and how the project resulted in curriculum development or re-design.
  4. The institution must demonstrate the extent to which the project involved sponsored programs funding or in-kind support from the institution or external agency.
AASCU Contact: Rich Dunfee, Director, Grants Resource Center

The International Education Award

The International Education Award will not only recognize outstanding international programs, but it will also document the success of institutions in infusing internationalization into one or more aspects of the university community, including curriculum, student/faculty exchange, study abroad, faculty professional development, international student recruitment, or community outreach.

Specific Criteria for the International Education Award:
  1. The institution must advance curriculum development, foster international opportunities, and creatively integrate international students into university life;
  2. The institution must offer innovative programs and services to make study abroad accessible to a broader student population. Special emphasis will be given to specific efforts that led to a strong increase in study abroad participation by under-represented students and study in non-traditional sites; and 
  3. The institution must demonstrate strategic, comprehensive and sustainable international partnership efforts.
AASCU Contact: Arlene Jackson, Director, International Education

The Leadership Development and Diversity Award

The Leadership Development and Diversity Award will recognize exemplary leadership development programs designed to enhance the leadership capacity and diversity of the next generation of higher education leaders. The AASCU Leadership Development Award also celebrates AASCU’s role as a first-class leadership development organization for its members.

Specific Criteria for the Leadership Development and Diversity Award:
  1. The institution must demonstrate the extent to which the program is a part of an integrated approach designed to identify, develop and promote high-potential talent throughout the university;
  2. The program must be diverse by design—that is, the enhancement and development of a diverse group of leaders is reflected in the program goals and evaluation criteria; and
  3. The leadership development program can be demonstrably connected to institutional outcomes.
AASCU Contact: Dorcas Colvin, Vice President, Leadership Development and Member Services 

The Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award 
(separate application and evaluation process)

Evaluation Process

Each application will first be independently ranked by an AASCU staff person on a 5-point scale (0 = no evidence that program or initiative meets the criteria and 4 = very strong evidence that program or initiative meets the criteria), and the highest ranked applications will be forwarded to Award Committee Members for individual ranking. The rankings of the staff member and all applications not forwarded to the committee will be accessible to the committee upon request. The AASCU staff person will prepare a spreadsheet of individual committee members' rankings for discussion and decision-making by teleconference. The Awards Committee will select up to two award winners for each category. 

Application Deadline

July 21, 2014 (Midnight Eastern Time)

Application Form

Project Title 
Provide a focused and descriptive title.

Institution/System Name
Name of the college, university, system or coordinating entity.

Institution Size/Carnegie Classification
Provide Fall 2013 Student FTE, and Carnegie Classification.

Award Category

Project Director
Provide the name and title of a person at the institution/system who is well positioned to answer detailed questions about the project, policy, program or practice.

Contact Information
Provide direct phone number and email of the project director.

Provide a specific URL for the project or initiative, if one exists.

Project Description
Provide a brief summary of the program, describing the initiative’s primary intent and outcome, as well as key stakeholder groups that benefitted. The first sentence of the project description should serve as a summary statement and convey key priorities if it were to stand alone. As appropriate, this statement should address the administration, funding and background (context) of the project.


  •  Use brief statements to indicate the most significant objectives of the innovation.
  •  Choose no more than four objectives to indicate the major components of the innovation.


Measurable Outcomes

  •  Use statements to indicate the outcomes that have been realized.
  •  Use both quantitative and qualitative measures, if available.
  •  As appropriate, indicate future intended outcomes.
  •  Include no more than four outcomes.


Describe how your program or initiative meets both the general award criteria and the specific criteria for the award for which you are applying. 


Challenges/Problems Encountered
Briefly describe challenges (institutional or external) that had to be overcome in order to implement the project. As appropriate, discuss adjustments that had to be made to address the problems encountered.

Additional Resources
If appropriate, please provide program or data resources (hyperlinked to websites, if possible) specifically relevant to the project or initiative.

Resource 1: 
Resource 2: 
Resource 3: 

CEO Contact
Provide the name, title and contact information for the campus or system president or chancellor.