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About University Student Awards

Each year, a select group of graduating students are honored with University Student Awards for achievements in service, scholarship and leadership. Nominations for 2023 University Student Awards will open in January, 2023. All information will be posted on this page at that time.

Award Criteria

This award goes to one graduating undergraduate student, who receives $1,000.

The President's Award is the highest award for undergraduate students and is presented to a graduating student whose accomplishments during the course of their undergraduate years are truly exceptional and reflect the highest ideals of American University.

Nominees will have demonstrated exceptional academic achievement, integrity, selflessness, leadership, and service to the Washington, D.C., community. They will have contributed significantly to building community and promoting the understanding and acceptance of cultural and racial diversity on the AU campus.

In addition, the nominees must be eligible for Latin Honors:

  • Achievement of a minimum 3.67 cumulative grade point average and a semester GPA of 3.67 (for the most recent completed semester)
  • Completion of at least 60 credit hours required for the degree in residence at American University 

This award is named in honor of Provost Emeritus Scott A. Bass to acknowledge his longstanding commitment to and support of academic excellence and high-quality, cutting edge research at the undergraduate level.  It is presented to two graduating undergraduate students, who receive $1,000 each.

This highly competitive award recognizes the nominee's sustained excellent academic record and exceptional academic success as exemplified by extraordinary publications, research, creative work, merit awards, or competitive selection for presentations at regional and national academic societies and conferences, or participation and recognition at case, brand, or product competitions.

This award goes to two graduating master's, MFA, LLM, JD, SJD, EdD, or PhD students, who receive $500 each.

This highly competitive award recognizes the nominee's sustained excellent academic record and exceptional academic success as exemplified by extraordinary publications, research, creative work, merit awards, or competitive selection for presentations at regional and national academic societies and conferences, or participation and recognition at case, brand, or product competitions.

This award goes to two graduating students (undergraduate, graduate or law), who receive $500 each.

Requires demonstration of unique contributions and sustained service that will leave a lasting impact on the University community, whether through student government, public service, organizational leadership, or a combination of several categories.

Eleven students receive Student Achievement Awards, named after significant individuals from AU's history. Each of the recipients must be graduating undergraduate students. Awards amounts vary. Student Achievement Awards require demonstration of unique contributions as well as service benefiting the American University community. Criteria are very specific; find out more about the awards and their recent recipients to learn more!

Bruce Hughes Award

A senior who has performed outstanding service to the University community and demonstrated unusual depth and maturity in leadership abilities. 

Carlton Savage Award

An international student who has contributed most to increase intercultural understanding at the University.

Catheryn Seckler-Hudson Award

A senior who best exemplifies qualities of character and achievement, while making significant contributions to Student Government.

Charles C. Glover Award

A senior who has best combined citizenship and business leadership in service to the University community.

Charles W. Van Way Award

A student who has contributed the most to building community at the University.

Evelyn Swarthout Hayes Award

A student who has contributed most to the University through the arts, while maintaining a high academic average.

Fletcher Scholar Award

A senior who best exemplifies integrity and selflessness in citizenship on and off campus, together with academic achievement.

Gail Short Hanson Award for Advocacy

A student who has demonstrated principled and informed leadership in advancing a cause, policy or program objective that benefits the campus community or a community beyond the campus. 

Harold Johnson Award

A student who has contributed most to promoting understanding and acceptance of cultural and racial diversity within the University community.

Kinsman-Hurst Award

A senior who has made significant contributions to the University while maintaining a high scholastic record and serving in Student Government or the Student Conduct system.

Stafford H. Cassell Award

A senior who best exemplifies the traits of Stafford Cassell - total, selfless dedication to the University, profound energy, reliability, intellectual curiosity, friendliness, and helpfulness.


How to Nominate 

Nominations for 2023 University Student Awards will open shortly. 

Deadline: Wednesday, March 22, 2023

How: Fill out the online nomination form (by clicking the "nominate student" button below). It includes a "nomination narrative" that says why you're nominating the student. 

Who is eligible: Students graduating between August 2022 and May 2023. (This includes all students eligible to walk in the December 2022 or May 2023 graduation ceremonies.) Of the 18 awards, 14 go to undergraduates, two go to graduate students, and two awards are open to both groups.

Who can nominate: Anyone at AU - so students, faculty and staff may all nominate. We also accept and encourage self-nominations. 

Nominate Student

Optional Recommendation Letter/s and Other Supporting Material

Material will be accepted when nominations open.

Deadline: Friday, March 24, 2023

After the nomination, other material can be added - such as a resume or up to 3 recommendation letters. Recommendations are support material for existing nominations. They do not create the nomination and can't be uploaded until there's an existing nomination. 

Who writes recommendations: Anyone who knows your work or impact - e.g. faculty, staff, fellow students, off-campus internship supervisors, etc.

Upload Supporting Material

FAQs and Common Errors

What's the difference between a "nomination narrative" and a "recommendation"? 

The nomination narrative is part of the nomination itself. It's written into a text box on the nomination form by the nominator. (Of course, the nominator is clearly recommending the person they nominate! But it's not a "recommendation letter.")

In contrast, a recommendation letter is an additional recommendation, from a person who did not nominate the student but supports the nomination. It's uploaded after the nomination has been created. It can be helpful but is not required.

Can a student be nominated for more than one award? 

Absolutely! Students can be nominated in multiple categories (President's Award, Scholarship, Outstanding Service, and Student Achievement). They can also be nominated for multiple awards within the 11 Student Achievement Award category. 

Can a student nominate themselves or a friend? 

Yes. But in that case, it will strengthen the nomination to have a recommendation letter from someone else. (Though this is not required.)

Can I nominate or recommend more than one student? 

Yes. You can nominate students for multiple awards, nominate several students for the same awards, or support nominations of multiple students with recommendation letters. 

Can I start a nomination and then edit it later?

Yes, although it's not really a "nomination" until it's submitted. You can save it in draft and keep working on it until you're ready to submit. But the student cannot upload support material until they're officially nominated, so please try to finalize it early and submit! After you hit "submit," you can still go back and edit the nomination until the deadline.

Can I nominate a student and also write a recommendation letter for them? 

To nominate, you must write a nomination narrative on the form, where you say why you're nominating them. This is your "recommendation," and there's enough space in the box to make a solid case. 

If you prefer, you can write a very brief narrative in the box, mention that your recommendation letter is attached, and then upload a recommendation letter as supporting material. But that's not the preferred approach.

Recommendation letters are supposed to come from people who are NOT the nominators, and are considered supporting material.

What are the most common errors?

  • Emailing a recommendation letter to the contact email and thinking you've nominated someone. (You can't nominate someone by sending in a letter. You need to fill in the form.)
  • Submitting a "recommendation letter" that is obviously not written for the particular award. Read the criteria. Reference the award. 
  • Having all your friends nominate you or write a flood of recommendation letters. Nominations or recommendations from friends can be great, but please remember - quality beats quantity every time. A letter from a friend saying "she's such a great amazing person" is not very helpful, and 10 of them don't increase your chances. 
  • Waiting too long to create the actual nomination form. Pro tip: You can always start a nomination early with minimal information and go back and edit. You can keep it in draft, or you can submit - either way, you can still edit until the deadline. The nomination is not "final" until the deadline, so having a partially written nomination won't harm your candidate. It's better to start early than to forget!
2022 University Student Awards winners

Announcement ·

Meet 2022’s University Student Award Winners

Read More

Past Winners

View past winners of the University Student Awards! These students have demonstrated excellence in service, leadership and academic scholarship.

View Past Recipients