Undergraduate Academic Affairs

UAA recognition awards and nomination process

Undergraduate Academic Affairs is a catalyst and advocate for excellence and innovation in undergraduate education. We lead programs and services for all students to succeed academically, learn from their challenges, and explore who they are, who they will become, and how they will contribute to their communities and the world. Our work ensures that undergraduate education is strengthened by the UW’s distinctiveness as a major public research university.

Recognition awards are presented to Undergraduate Academic Affairs employees who best exemplify the values of Undergraduate Academic Affairs in their daily work and efforts to support the UAA mission. Nominations are sought each year during spring quarter.

Awards and Nomination Process

Nominations are not currently being requested.

Debbie McGhee Award for Excellence

The Debbie McGhee Award for Excellence is presented to a current UAA staff member who has substantially advanced our mission to be a “catalyst and advocate for excellence and innovation” and who fully embodies our values: collaboration, compassion, curiosity, equity, integrity and transformative learning. This award represents the highest accolade we bestow upon one another as we celebrate those who lead the way for all of us to continuously strive to do our best work and be our best selves.

Between 1999 and 2019, 38 individuals received the recognition under its former name, the Award for Excellence. It was renamed to honor Debbie McGhee, a beloved colleague who passed away between the time she was nominated for the award and the event at which it was presented to her in June of 2019. Read more about Debbie here.


Must have worked at the UW for a minimum of 10 years total (does not need to be consecutive) with at least five of those years as an employee in Undergraduate Academic Affairs.
Must not have received the award before. A list of previous recipients can be found here.

Nomination process

A nomination letter (maximum of two pages in length) is required. Supporting letters (maximum of three) are welcome but not required. A strong nomination will include a description of how, over time, the nominee has:

    • Embodied UAA’s core values in their work
    • Substantially advanced UAA’s mission
    • Left their mark on UAA’s legacy of excellence

Combine the nomination materials for each individual into a single PDF.



Nominations for the  Debbie McGhee Award for Excellence are reviewed by the executive staff with the final decision made by the vice provost and dean. The executive staff consists of Janice DeCosmo, Jason Johnson, Michaelann Jundt, Nanette Rosenthal and Ed Taylor.

Leadership Awards

The Leadership Awards are presented to UAA staff or student employees or teams who have exemplified UAA values within the past year. Each nomination should focus on a single UAA value. You are welcome to nominate individuals for more than one value, but they must be separated into different nominations.


Any UAA employee, employed between March 1, 2020, and February 28, 2021, is eligible for the awards, including part-time, temporary, student staff and interns. Teams of people that worked together in the above time frame are also eligible.

Nomination process

Nominations should be a short, written statement of how this person or team embodied and modeled the specified value in their work during the period March 1, 2020 – February 29, 2021. The statement can be as short as one paragraph and up to one page long.

Nominations should articulate how the nominee’s work gives expression to the following:

1. Collaboration

  • Carefully stewards the intentional partnerships that are foundational to their work
  • Engages consistently with students and staff to build upon one another’s strengths
  • Understands, listens to, and incorporates a variety of different perspectives
  • Demonstrates a commitment to working with students, staff, faculty and the broader community to enrich collective efforts
  • Actively and regularly collaborates with colleagues outside of their department

2. Compassion

  • Helps create a culture that promotes the well-being of oneself and others
  • Values each person’s unique path and offers support to them as they engage in their work and the broader campus
  • Fosters a work environment where care for self and others is woven into the fabric of how they work

3. Curiosity

  • Asking questions is a regular part of their work
  • Fosters a culture of inquiry and creates opportunities for feedback.
  • Listens wells to others
  • Encourages students to ask genuine and critical questions about their academics and potential futures

4. Equity

  • Invests in creating an equitable working environment through time, resources and/or leveraging opportunities
  • Advocates for and works toward improving working and learning experiences for diverse student and employee populations
  • Understands, or is working to understand their individual biases and actively challenges them on a regular basis
  • Contributing to transforming the culture, policies and practices to accelerate change in UAA

5. Integrity

  • Personally acts ethically and with mutual respect and honesty
  • Promotes ethical conduct in relationships and organizational practices
  • Creates a climate where ethical engagement is a norm
  • Contributes to a culture where integrity practiced

6. Transformative Learning

    • Engages in self-reflection and critical inquiry as a way to grow and change
    • Seeks out learning opportunities for self
    • Creates opportunities for others to learn and grow
    • Leads efforts to integrate transformative learning experiences into program and/or departmental activities (e.g, student programming, staff development, etc.)
    • Promotes the value of transformative learning to the educational and/or employee experience



The leadership award selection committee is composed of 3-4 staff members from across UAA departments. Committee members can expect a commitment of up to 3 hours of their time to review and discuss nominations and make selections. This includes one 60-90 minute committee meeting. The names of the committee members are not confidential and they are acknowledged at the annual staff celebration and recognition event.

Nominations are reviewed by the selected committee using a rubric based on the award selection criteria stated above. Any nominations that demonstrate the above criteria will receive the award.

Distinguished Partner Award

The Distinguished Partner Award recognizes a colleague, program or department whose collaborations with Undergraduate Academic Affairs have made significant advances in the University of Washington’s undergraduate academic experience. These collaborations enhance, enrich and deepen the undergraduate experience. The reciprocity of these relationships benefits undergraduates and the broader campus community.


Must be a UW colleague, program or department that is not organizationally in Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

Must not have received the award before. A list of previous recipients can be found here.


This award is selected by the vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs in consultation with the executive assistant and a member of the executive staff. He communicates with colleagues throughout the unit to get feedback on his selection to ensure this is a valued partnership across UAA.