What does an administrative assistant in the Department of Economics have in common with the varsity volleyball coach, the head humanities librarian and a project technician in the Research Laboratory of Electronics? All are among the most outstanding employees at MIT --Â recipients of MIT Excellence Awards.
Nominations are due Oct. 27 for this year's Excellence Awards, which recognize exceptional accomplishments by support, service, sponsored research, administrative and other academic staff. (The due date is Oct. 20 for Lincoln Lab employees.)
"The Excellence Awards recognize the great contributions that individuals make to help maintain the leadership position of MIT," said Vice President for Resource Development Jeffrey L. Newton. "I encourage everyone to think about an outstanding individual who could be nominated."
This year's seven award categories are:
- fostering diversity and inclusion
- innovative solutions
- fostering community
- bringing out the best
- creating connections
- serving the client
- unsung hero
Kande Culver, who administers the Rewards and Recognition Program for Human Resources, said that every nomination is carefully reviewed by a diverse committee of 14-15 people, drawn from across the Institute. Last year, 16 winners were chosen from a pool of 110 nominees.
"It was incredibly inspiring to read about all these people on campus whom I've never come in contact with who do phenomenal jobs," said Mary Frances Gydus, who served on the MIT Excellence Awards Selection Committee last year, when she was assistant to the director of the MIT Press.
Newton, who also served on the committee, agreed. "Reviewing the nominations gave me a wonderful opportunity to learn how the desire to achieve excellence permeates every department at the Institute. We need to recognize these achievements."
Committee members say the key to a good nomination is meeting the award category criteria and offering examples of excellence, not simply praise. "Really pay attention to the award description and keep that in mind as you're writing the nomination," said Paree Pinkney, an administrative officer for the Program in Science, Technology, and Society and a committee member last year.
"It doesn't matter what you do or who you are. If your colleagues think you really go above and beyond, then you should be nominated," Gydus said.
Awardees receive $2,000 each and will be honored at a ceremony on March 4, 2009, at Kresge Auditorium. For more details, visit hrweb.mit.edu/rewards/excellence.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 1, 2008 (download PDF).