Pillars of Excellence Award

Congratulations to the 2021 Models of Excellence Honorees

This year's honorees in all categories have been selected.

The complete list of 2021 Models of Excellence honorees is available for download.


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

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 nomination process is detailed, and all its components must be completed before the nomination can be accepted.  

Each year, the Quick Start Guide to Submitting a Nomination provides all of the information you need to complete this process.  Steps include:

1. Reviewing the eligibility criteria in the Nomination Guide.
2. Completing the Nomination Form which includes two reference letters and supervisor verification of eligibility.
3. Submitting the completed nomination through the online form by the published deadline.

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.

2020 Pillar of Excellence

Jamie Apgar

Jamie Apgar
Training Coordinator
Division of Human Resources

Jamie Apgar has redefined the role of Training Coordinator by shaping it beyond its parameters – she has, in effect, “super-sized” each component of her job description, confidently moving between several roles.

Christopher Ferraiolo and  Michah Mack

Christopher Ferraiolo & Michah Mack
Building Managers
Wharton School

Chris Ferraiolo and Michah Mack show exceptional commitment in not only performing their daily job duties but by demonstrating their dedication to the Wharton School in everything from their delivery of superior customer service to office move coordination, managing projects, and preparing for special guests.

Seth Fitzgerald

Seth Fitzgerald
Facilities and Real Estate Services

Fitzgerald provides excellent customer service to building occupants and welcomes each performance attendee to the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. His skills distinguish him in the area of housekeeping, attention to detail, problem solving, preventative maintenance, and dedication to the mission of the Annenberg Center.

Ada Lawry

Ada Lawry
Unit Leader I
Residential and Hospitality Services

Serving the University for 53 years, Ada Lawry displays the highest level of customer service, quality control, operational efficiency, food preparation and presentation, health code compliance, sanitation, and safety throughout the Penn Dining operation.

Questions? Call 215-898-7729 or contact us by email.