Pillars of Excellence Award

The 2018 nomination period for the Pillars of Excellence Awards is now closed.

Please save the date for this year's Models of Excellence ceremony and celebration on April 4, 2018 at 4pm.

Introduced in 2014, the Pillars of Excellence Award recognizes the strong foundation and important support our weekly-paid staff members provide to promote Penn’s success. These staff members are pillars of the institution.

Our pillars are responsible for overseeing activities that keep our environment safe and operational for Penn’s faculty, staff, and students. They provide administrative support to organizations and individuals on day-to-day activities. They also provide important infrastructure services, such as: maintaining facilities and outdoor spaces; overseeing our mail, our parking areas, and our safety; and providing housekeeping and dining services. These staff members support key internal and external constituencies every day. They create the foundation that helps keep the University operating successfully and smoothly, meeting the goals of the University’s mission and contributing to Penn’s prestige.

Standards of Excellence

These behaviors reflect the University’s standards for a Pillar of Excellence and are used by the Selection Committee to identify individuals who qualify for this award:

  • Provides superior sustained service
  • Supports a special project or situation in a notable way
  • Delivers exemplary service to customers
  • Displays exceptional responsiveness to key constituents/customers
  • Uses superior efficiency in responding to customers’ needs
  • Exhibits exemplary professional behavior when responding to customers’ needs/requests
  • Exhibits exceptional resourcefulness, innovation, or creativity to help customers with their problems/issues
  • Improves processes to save time or money through over-and-above service to key constituencies
  • Contributes to a positive, collaborative work environment


The Nomination Process

Nominations for the Pillars of Excellence Award are due in the fall for contributions made during the previous fiscal year (July 1- June 30).

We’re looking for non-exempt, weekly-paid staff members who meet the above standards of excellence by doing their jobs so well on a daily basis that their impact is felt keenly by those working with them or in the environment they oversee. They model outstanding services and support to their constituents every day, during special situations, and/or under unique circumstances. Please consider nominating a deserving staff member or team; we welcome nominations from any level of the organization, including self-nominations.

The Models of Excellence Nomination Guide provides all of the information you need to complete this process.

Follow these steps:

1. Review the Nomination Guide and eligibility requirements.

2. Complete the online Nomination Form.  Be sure to include two reference letters and supervisor verification of eligibility.

3. Submit the completed nomination through the online form by October 20, 2017.

Questions? Call 215-898-1012 or contact us by email.

Selection and Notification

An annually rotating Models of Excellence Selection Committee reviews all nominations and selects the award winners. The committee is representative of the diversity of our institution, composed of Penn leaders from the Provost, Executive Vice President, and Vice President of Human Resources areas, previous Models of Excellence award winners, and other faculty and staff members from across campus.

Once staff members are chosen for Pillars of Excellence recognition are notified in January, and the information is publicized broadly to the Penn community. Honorees are acknowledged at the spring Models of Excellence Award Ceremony.

Awards, Ceremony, and Reception

Pillars of Excellence award winners receive $500.00 and a symbolic award. Extremely noteworthy contributions receive Honorable Mentions and are awarded $250.00 and a symbolic award.

The next award ceremony and reception for honorees will take place on April 8, 2017 in Irvine Auditorium. All members of the campus community are invited; more information will be provided as the date approaches.

2017 Honorees

2017 Pillars of Excellence Award

Katie Carlin Birch, Business Services: for exemplifying the essence of a customer service mentality through collaboration, dedication, and innovative thinking while continually demonstrating a commitment to excellence in all she does.

Katie Carlin Birch

2017 Pillars of Excellence Honorable Mention

Maya Smith, Business Services: for her sound decision making, outstanding customer service, and superior organizational skills as the "face of PennCard." 


Learn about former Models of Excellence honorees and view photo galleries of previous Models of Excellence Award ceremonies and receptions. Click here for more details.


Questions? Call 215-898-1012 or contact us by email.