Excellence in Public Engagement Awards – Community


  • Member(s) of the Local Community – One individual or team/group award may be given, based on public engagement involving the University of Illinois.
  • Alumni – One award may be given to an alumnus (or group of alumni) based on public engagement involving the University of Illinois.

Each community award includes a personalized commemorative plaque and $2,000 funding toward a supported project.


Members of the Champaign-Urbana community and University of Illinois alumni who have demonstrated significant individual contributions to the local community, state, nation, or world through distinguished university public engagement are eligible for this award. For purposes of these awards, distinguished public engagement is sustained and a direct extension of an individual’s disciplinary or technical expertise to the public and non-profit sector. Individuals or teams who have received the award in the previous 5 years are not eligible.

Engagement or service resulting in monetary gain (private consulting) is not considered public service, nor is service that is performed as a private citizen (membership in local service clubs, for example) or as an elected public official.

Evaluation Criteria

The selection committee will evaluate nominations on the degree to which a nominee meets the following criteria in performing public engagement activities:

  • Sustained activity with the University of Illinois (minimum of three years) in working with the public and/or with external organizations;
  • Innovative or entrepreneurial ways of working for the well-being of citizens and communities;
  • Evidence of the impact on the community served; and
  • Demonstrated professional and/or personal growth as a result of the experience.


The nomination is a two-step process. The review committee will screen initial nominations; nominators will be notified whether their nominee will move forward as a semifinalist.

Any employee of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign or members of the public working with the nominee can make a nomination. Self-nominations are not allowed. Nominators must notify the nominee that they are being nominated for a CAEPE Award.

Stage 1 Requirements

  1. Each nomination must include a cover sheet (download the form from Box to complete it);
  2. A nomination narrative (no more than two pages) describing how the nominee fulfills the stated criteria. The narrative should include:

– descriptions of specific activities or programs in which the candidate has excelled,
– comments on the importance of the individual’s work to the campus,
– special characteristics that extend the nominee’s expertise and set him/her apart from others, and
– indicators of the impact of the activities on the external community as well as on the university;

  1. For a nominee whose job description includes public engagement, the nomination letter should clearly indicate how the person’s work or the project is entrepreneurial, innovative, or goes above and beyond the work normally associated with the nominee’s job, including how the project engages individuals and/or groups that may not have access or frequently engage with the University of Illinois.
  2. The nominator should ensure that documentary evidence is available. The names and contact information for two individuals (other than the nominator) who can verify the demonstrated impact on the community must be included.
  3. Submit the nomination using the online form. The college’s dean must sign the nomination cover sheet (linked above in item 1) to indicate support of the nomination. A supporting letter from the dean may be submitted, but it is not required to meet this element of the nomination package.

The review committee will determine semifinalists during the initial screening process. Nominators will be notified of the status of their nomination after Stage 1 evaluations are complete.

Stage 2 Requirements

Nominators of semifinalists will be requested to submit the following:

  1. A self-statement from the nominee.
  2. Three letters of reference (other than the nominator’s). These letters must include one from an outside constituent and one from the candidate’s unit. Letters of recommendation will only be accepted during Stage 2 submission.
  3. The nominee’s curriculum vitae or resumé that includes brief annotations highlighting the nominee’s engagement activities. For the Team Award, curriculum vitae or resumés for up to five team participants will be accepted, with at least one of the five being from a University faculty or staff member.
  4. Submit the package using the online form.


November 1 Deadline for Stage 1 nominations to be submitted.

Early December– Nominators will be notified whether their nominee will move forward to Stage 2 as a semifinalist.

January 15 Deadline for Stage 2 packages (for semifinalists only) to be submitted.

*When a deadline falls on a weekend or campus holiday, nominations will be due the next business day.

Previous Recipients
Award RecipientAward Year
Tracy Dace2023
Smile Politely2021


For more information about Campus Awards for Excellence in Public Engagement, contact the Major Awards Coordinator in the Office of the Provost at provostawards@illinois.edu.