Excellence in Public Engagement Awards – Students


  • Undergraduate Student Award – Up to two awards may be given to undergraduate students for public engagement activities. Each undergraduate student award includes a $2,000 scholarship and a personalized commemorative plaque. In the case of a graduating student, a cash award is given.
  • Graduate or Professional Student Award – One award may be given to a graduate or professional student for public engagement activities. The graduate student award includes a $2,000 stipend and a personalized commemorative plaque. In the case of a graduating student, a cash award is given.
  • Student Team Award – One student team award may be given for public engagement activities. At least one member of the team must be a faculty or staff member at the University of Illinois, and the team should be comprised predominantly of students (undergraduate and/or graduate). The student team award includes $2,000 in funding allocated toward the team’s supported engagement activities for the following academic year and a personalized commemorative plaque.


All current undergraduate and graduate/professional students who have demonstrated significant individual contributions to the local community, state, nation, or world through distinguished university public engagement are eligible for campus public engagement awards. For purposes of these awards, distinguished public engagement is 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

Individual Award for Students

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

  • Sustained leadership (minimum of two years) with responsibilities that have progressively increased over time;
  • Innovative and/or entrepreneurial ways of working for the well-being of citizens and communities;
  • Evidence of the impact on a community served; and
  • Demonstrated intellectual or professional, and personal development as a result of the experience.

Team Award for Students

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

  • Sustained leadership (a minimum of three years) in working with the public and/or with external organizations;
  • Innovative and/or entrepreneurial ways of working for the well being of citizens and communities;
  • Documented excellence in extending University knowledge;
  • Evidence of the impact on the community served;
  • Evidence of impact on scholarship/research, instruction and curriculum development, or evidence of national significance in the field or community; and
  • Consideration will be given to projects that encourage participation from multiple stakeholders.


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;
  3. For a nominee whose job description or course requirements include 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 or studies, including how the project engages individuals and/or groups that may not have access or frequently engage with the University of Illinois.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 RecipientDepartmentAward Year
Dustin BaconEnglish2024
Imani CantonKinesiology and Community Health2024
Jorge Rojas AlvarezInstitute of Communications Research2022
Chris Ackerman-AvilaUrban and Regional Planning2021


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.