Excellence in Leadership Awards

The Excellence in Leadership Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of Washington University students and their co-curricular experience.

Excellence in Leadership Awards Ceremony

Date: TBA

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Learn about the Shepley and Hayes Awards.

Recognizing Student Leaders and Student Groups

Students mingling in Holmes Lounge

Students at Washington University regularly achieve great success. Through the Annual Excellence in Leadership Awards, Campus Life honors student leaders and student groups who actively pursue and demonstrate excellence in leadership within the campus community.

Those recognized for Excellence in Leadership will have:

  • Gone above and beyond the expectations of the campus community
  • Consistently proven to be exemplary amongst the campus community in all aspects of their campus involvement
  • Fostered positive relationships with campus resources / departments and other student organizations
  • Intentionally pursued the organization’s ideals through the attainment of established goals and continual reflection and development.

Who can nominate a student leader?

Any Washington University community member may nominate a student leader or a student group believed to exemplify excellence in leadership.

A student group can also apply directly for an award. However, individual students cannot self-nominate for the individual awards.

How do I apply on behalf of my student organization or nominate a student organization or an individual student?

Any established group / group effort believed to exemplify excellence in leadership may apply or be nominated. Student group applications / nominations will need to provide information about the officers & the group, as well as respond to the award criteria.

When and where are nominations/applications due?

Excellence in Leadership Awards Nominations are due by noon on March 16. Nominations will be accepted online, and supplementary materials can be submitted online. If you have questions, call Campus Life at 314-935-5038.

The Awards

Excellence in Leadership presents 15 awards, honoring nine individuals and six groups, in recognition of their outstanding achievements at Washington University.
An award may have more than one recipient.

Individual Awards

Sharon Stahl Outstanding First-Year Leader Award

The Sharon Stahl Outstanding First-Year Leader Award, established in 2006, recognizes a first-year student for exemplary leadership, service, and commitment to the University community.

Outstanding Sophomore Leader Award

The Outstanding Sophomore Leader Award, established in 2006, recognizes a sophomore for exemplary leadership, service, and commitment to the University community.

Outstanding Junior Leader Award

The Outstanding Junior Leader Award, established in 2006, recognizes a junior for exemplary leadership, service, and commitment to the University community.

Outstanding Senior Leader Award*

The Outstanding Senior Leader Award, new in 2012, recognizes a senior for exemplary leadership, service, and commitment to the University community.

Unsung Hero Award – “demonstrated leadership, not necessary to have a title”

The Unsung Hero award was established in 2006 to recognize a student for work they do behind the scenes. The individual might not hold an executive leadership position within an organization, but consistently works to improve their organization or cause.

Ripple Award – “committed to social justice”

The Ripple Award was established in 1995 by the Student Union, the Committee Organization for Rape Education, Residential Advisors, Office of Residential Life, and Office of Student Activities to recognize an individual who stands up for their ideals, strikes out against injustice, bestows unconditional respect upon all beings, enables groups and individuals to flourish, and recognizes the significance of small acts in the effort to attain a greater vision.

Helen Davis Humanitarian Award – “committed to education and service”

The Helen Davis Humanitarian Award was established in 1995 by the Office of Student Activities as a tribute to the dedication shown by Ms. Davis to Washington University and the St. Louis community. The award will recognize a student who promotes human welfare in the St. Louis community through education and service.

Victor H. Farwell Award – “senior with four years of cumulative leadership and service to communities”

The Victor H. Farwell Award, established in 1994, recognizes a senior for an exemplary track record of leadership, service, and commitment to the University community over their entire collegiate career. This award acts as the capstone leadership award for a senior who has worked throughout their four years to better the Washington University community (and beyond) and their own leadership skills.

Advisor of the Year Award

The Advisor of the Year Award was new in 2012 and recognizes the outstanding contributions of a faculty or staff member to a student group.

Doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal adviser, but a faculty or staff member who has advised student groups to success.

*All nominated seniors will be considered for Outstanding Senior Leader Award


Group Awards

Outstanding New Program or Event – “never been done before”

Student groups frequently put on excellent programs. Groups recognized in this category will have been innovative, collaborative, motivated, and will have produced an outstanding program or event.

  • New signifies new program/event (developed in the 2017-2018 academic year) , not necessarily a new group on campus
  • Innovative means that it meets a new or emerging need of the community

Outstanding Established Program or Event – “been done at least once before”
Student groups frequently put on excellent programs. Groups recognized in this category will have been innovative, collaborative, motivated, and will have produced an outstanding program or event.

  • Emphasis on established program/event (developed prior to the 2015-2016 academic year)
  • Innovative means doing something new to enhance the success or mission of the program/event

Dignity of Difference Award – “committed to social justice”

The Dignity of Difference Award recognizes student groups for efforts that have enhanced the campus climate as it relates to race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, culture, socioeconomic status, disabilities and wellness.

Living the Mission Award – “values based, mission driven”

The Living the Mission Award, created by Campus Life staff in 2005, recognizes a student group who is exemplifying what it means to live out the mission, values and principles of their group on a daily basis.

Most Improved Student Group – “new initiatives or re-energized direction”

The Most Improved Student Group Award was new for 2012 and recognizes a student group for significant growth over the course of an academic year. Winners of this award show exceptional improvement in programming and/or governance.

Outstanding Student Group – “Outstanding Overall”

The Outstanding Student Group Award was established by Campus Life to recognize a model student group – one with a dynamic leadership team, engaging and thoughtful program/events, effective meeting structure/engagement, and overall success of living out its mission and purpose. In addition the group will demonstrate a commitment to the Washington University community, or beyond.

Detailed Award Criteria

Outstanding New Program or Event
Student groups frequently put on excellent programs and events. Groups recognized in this category will have been innovative, collaborative, motivated, and will have produced an outstanding program or event new to campus in the last academic year.

  • Vision and Strategy:
    • Group understands the importance of challenging the status quo and applying creative and innovative solutions to affect positive change.
    • Group will have developed a vision for change.
    • Group will have formulated goals and action steps necessary to bring their vision into reality.
  • Connection and Collaboration:
    • Group seeks out meaningful relationships to foster positive change.
    • Group understands these relationships not simply as a means to an end but as an integral component of creating an effective community.
    • Group finds ways to motivate, utilize, and incorporate others to move their vision forward.
  • Integration and Meaningful Action:
    • Group is able to translate ideas into action.
    • Group seeks opportunities to develop cultural competency and understand themselves as contributing to the improvement of a global society.
    • Group creates opportunities for the inclusion of multiple perspectives to develop synergistic results.
  • Valuing Others:
    • Group seeks to understand the communities in which they are a part.

Outstanding Established Program or Event
Student groups frequently put on excellent programs and events. Groups recognized in this category will have been innovative, collaborative, motivated, and will have continued to produce an outstanding program or event that has been on campus for at least one year. It may even be seen as a tradition on campus.

Winners of this award will demonstrate the following:

  • Vision and Strategy:
    • Group understands the importance of challenging the status quo and applying creative and innovative solutions to affect positive change.
    • Group will have developed a vision for change.
    • Group will have formulated goals and action steps necessary to bring their vision into reality.
  • Connection and Collaboration:
    • Group seeks out meaningful relationships to foster positive change.
    • Group understands these relationships not simply as a means to an end but as an integral component of creating an effective community.
    • Group finds ways to motivate, utilize, and incorporate others to move their vision forward.
  • Integration and Meaningful Action:
    • Group is able to translate ideas into action.
    • Group seeks opportunities to develop cultural competency and understand themselves as contributing to the improvement of a global society.
    • Group creates opportunities for the inclusion of multiple perspectives to develop synergistic results.
  • Valuing Others:
    • Group seeks to understand the communities in which they are a part

Dignity of Difference Award
The Dignity of Difference Award recognizes student groups for efforts that have enhanced the campus climate as it relates to race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, culture, socioeconomic status, disabilities and wellness.
Winners of this award will demonstrate the following:

  • Valuing Others:
    • Group understands the value of having diverse perspectives within the community.
    • Group seeks opportunities to develop cultural competency and understand themselves as a contributing to the improvement of global society.
    • Group creates opportunities for the inclusion of multiple perspectives to develop synergistic results.
  • Ethics and Integrity:
    • Group understands their actions, both public and private, are reflective of their values.
    • When faced with ethical issues, the group challenges themselves and others to act in ways congruent with their personal and shared values.
    • Group demonstrates the highest level of integrity in all aspects of their lives.
  • Connection and Collaboration:
    • Group seeks out meaningful relationships to foster positive change.
    • Group understands these relationships not simply as a means to an end but as an integral component of creating an effective community.
    • Group finds ways to motivate, utilize and incorporate others to move their vision forward.
  • Vision and Strategy:
    • Group understands the importance of challenging the status quo and applying creative and innovative solutions to affect positive change.
    • Group has developed a vision for change.
    • Group has formulated goals and action steps necessary to bring their vision into reality.

Living the Mission Award
The Living the Mission Award recognizes a student group who exemplifies what it means to live out their mission on a daily basis.
This award honors intentional efforts to incorporate and uphold the values and principles of their organization.
Winners in this category will have demonstrated the following:

  • Ethics and Integrity:
    • Group understands their actions, both public and private, are reflective of their values.
    • When faced with ethical issues, the group challenges themselves and others to act in ways congruent with their personal and shared values.
    • Group demonstrates the highest level of integrity in all aspects of their lives.
  • Integration and Meaningful Action:
    • Group is able to translate ideas into action.
    • Group seeks opportunities to develop cultural competency and understand themselves as contributing to the improvement of a global society.
    • Group creates opportunities for the inclusion of multiple perspectives to develop synergistic results.
  • Valuing Others:
    • Group understands the value of having diverse perspectives within the community.
    • Group seeks opportunities to develop cultural competency and understand themselves as a contributing to the improvement of global society.
    • Group creates opportunities for the inclusion of multiple perspectives to develop synergistic results.
  • Communication:
    • Group seeks understands that effective communication is a crucial component of successful leadership.
    • Group demonstrates proficiency across multiple modes of communication and effectively and appropriately utilizes technology.
    • Group is able to engage in meaningful conversations and interactions with others.

Outstanding Student Group Award
The Outstanding Student Group Award recognizes exemplary leadership and commitment by a student group to the Washington University community.
The group worthy of this award will have shown progressive leadership and commitment consistent with the mission of Campus Life.
Winners in this category will have demonstrated the following:

  • Ethics and Integrity:
    • Group understands their actions, both public and private, are reflective of their values.
    • When faced with ethical issues, the group challenges themselves and others to act in ways congruent with their personal and shared values.
    • Group demonstrates the highest level of integrity in all aspects of their lives.
  • Communication:
    • Group seeks understands that effective communication is a crucial component of successful leadership.
    • Group demonstrates proficiency across multiple modes of communication and effectively and appropriately utilizes technology.
    • Group is able to engage in meaningful conversations and interactions with others.
  • Vision and Strategy:
    • Group understands the importance of challenging the status quo and applying creative and innovative solutions to affect positive change.
    • Group will have developed a vision for change.
    • Group will have formulated goals and action steps necessary to bring their vision into reality.
  • Connection and Collaboration:
    • Group seeks out meaningful relationships to foster positive change.
    • Group understands these relationships not simply as a means to an end but as an integral component of creating an effective community.
    • Group finds ways to motivate, utilize, and incorporate others to move their vision forward.
  • Integration and Meaningful Action:
    • Group is able to translate ideas into action.
    • Group seeks opportunities to develop cultural competency and understand themselves as contributing to the improvement of a global society.
    • Group creates opportunities for the inclusion of multiple perspectives to develop

Most Improved Group Award
The Most Improved Group Award recognizes a student group for significant growth over the course of an academic year. Winners of this award show exceptional improvement in programming and/or governance.

Groups receiving this award demonstrate the following:

  • Vision & Strategy
    • Define and articulate a vision for their organization, community, or cause
    • Redefine problems and create new paradigms
  • Integration and Meaningful Action
    • Employ creative problem solving and critical thinking behaviors
    • Demonstrate resiliency in the face of challenges
    • Demonstrate the ability to take appropriate action
  • Connection and Collaboration
    • Understand and value the process as well as the final outcome
    • Prepare and empower future leaders to ensure sustained community effectiveness

Helen Davis Humanitarian Award
The Helen Davis Humanitarian Award was established as a tribute to the dedication shown by Ms. Davis to Washington University and the St. Louis community. The award will recognize a student who promotes human welfare in the St. Louis community through education and service.

  • Valuing Others:
    • Individual understands the value of having diverse perspectives within the community.
    • Individual seeks opportunities to develop cultural competency and understand themselves as a contributing to the improvement of global society.
    • Individual creates opportunities for the inclusion of multiple perspectives to develop synergistic results.
  • Ethics and Integrity:
    • Individual understands their actions, both public and private, are reflective of their values.
    • When faced with ethical issues, individual challenges themselves and others to act in ways congruent with their personal and shared values.
    • Individual demonstrates the highest level of integrity in all aspects of their lives.
  • Connection and Collaboration:
    • Individual seeks out meaningful relationships to foster positive change.
    • Individual understands these relationships not simply as a means to an end but as an integral component of creating an effective community.
    • Individual finds ways to motivate, utilize, and incorporate others to move their vision forward.
  • Vision and Strategy:
    • Individual understands the importance of challenging the status quo and applying creative and innovative solutions to affect positive change.
    • Individual has developed a vision for change.
    • Individual has formulated goals and action steps necessary to bring their vision into reality.

Ripple Award
The Ripple Award recognizes an individual who stands up for their ideals, strikes out against injustice, bestows unconditional respect upon all beings, enables groups and individuals to flourish, and recognizes the significance of small acts in the effort to attain a greater vision.
Winners of this award will have demonstrated the following:

  • Valuing Others:
    • Individual understands the value of having diverse perspectives within the community.
    • Individual seeks opportunities to develop cultural competency and understand themselves as a contributing to the improvement of global society.
    • Individual creates opportunities for the inclusion of multiple perspectives to develop synergistic results.
  • Ethics and Integrity:
    • Individual understands their actions, both public and private, are reflective of their values.
    • When faced with ethical issues, individual challenges themselves and others to act in ways congruent with their personal and shared values.
    • Individual demonstrates the highest level of integrity in all aspects of their lives.
  • Integration and Meaningful Action:
    • Individual is able to translate ideas into action.
    • Individual seeks opportunities to develop cultural competency and understand themselves as contributing to the improvement of a global society.
    • Individual creates opportunities for the inclusion of multiple perspectives to develop synergistic results.
  • Connection and Collaboration:
    • Individual seeks out meaningful relationships to foster positive change.
    • Individual understands these relationships not simply as a means to an end but as an integral component of creating an effective community.
    • Individual finds ways to motivate, utilize, and incorporate others to move their vision forward.

Victor H. Farwell Award
The Victor H. Farwell Award recognizes a senior for exemplary track record of leadership, service, and commitment to the University community over their entire collegiate career. This award acts as the capstone leadership award for a senior who has worked throughout their four years to better the Washington University community and their own leadership skills.
Winners of this award will have demonstrated the following:

  • Self Awareness
    • Discern and describe their personal leadership style, strengths, and limitations
    • Appropriately apply their learning and leadership style and strengths.
    • Recognize their own multiple identities, experiences and biases and how these affect their ability to lead.
  • Vision and Strategy
    • Define and articulate a vision for their organization, community, or cause.
    • Identify and employ innovative solutions to challenges as well as current conditions.
  • Valuing Others
    • Seek to understand the communities in which they are a part.
    • Appropriately integrate differing viewpoints and experiences for maximum organizational performance.
    • Undertake opportunities to serve their communities.
  • Integration and Meaningful Action
    • Employ creative problem solving and critical thinking behaviors.
    • Demonstrate resiliency in the face of challenges.
    • Demonstrate the ability to take appropriate action.
  • Ethics and Integrity
    • Make decisions in alignment with their personal and organizational values.
    • Demonstrate ethical and equitable behaviors through their decisions and actions.
    • Define and articulate the importance of role-modeling.
  • Connection and Collaboration
    • Empower, utilize and motivate others.
    • Understand and value the process as well as the final outcome.
    • Address and resolve conflict with civility.
    • Prepare and empower future leaders to ensure sustained community effectiveness.

Unsung Hero Award
The Unsung Hero Award recognizes a student for work they do behind the scenes. The individual may not hold an executive leadership position within an organization, but consistently works to improve his or her organization or cause. This award will recognize someone who goes above and beyond their responsibilities as a general member and does so to enhance the overall outcome of the student organization, a program or an initiative.
Winners of this award will demonstrate the following:

  • Ethics and Integrity:
    • Individual understands their actions, both public and private, are reflective of their values.
    • When faced with ethical issues, individual challenges themselves and others to act in ways congruent with their personal and shared values.
    • Individual demonstrates the highest level of integrity in all aspects of their lives.
  • Connection and Collaboration:
    • Individual seeks out meaningful relationships to foster positive change.
    • Individual understands these relationships not simply as a means to an end but as an integral component of creating an effective community.
    • Individual finds ways to motivate, utilize, and incorporate others to move their vision forward.
    • Individual creates a safe, open and trustworthy environment.
    • Individual understands and values the process as well as the final outcome.

Sharon Stahl Outstanding First Year Leader Award
The Sharon Stahl Outstanding First Year Leader Award recognizes a first-year student for exemplary leadership, service, and commitment to the university community. This award recognizes outstanding initiative, motivation and potential as a future leader on campus.
Winner of this award will have demonstrated the following:

  • Self Awareness:
    • Individual has defined and articulated their personal values
  • Valuing Others:
    • Individual seeks to understand the community in which they are a part
    • Individual undertakes opportunities to serve their communities
  • Ethics and Integrity:
    • Individual makes decisions in alignment with their personal and organizational values
    • Individual demonstrates ethical and equitable behaviors through their decisions and actions

Outstanding Sophomore Leader Award
The Outstanding Sophomore Leader Award recognizes a sophomore for exemplary leadership, service, and commitment to the University community. This award recognizes outstanding initiative and motivation, and continued student leadership on campus by a sophomore student to the Washington University community.
Winner of this award will have demonstrated the following:

  • Self Awareness:
    • Individual appropriately applies their learning and leadership style and strengths
    • Individual actively seeks, evaluates, and when appropriate, incorporates feedback
  • Vision and Strategy:
    • Individual defines and articulates a vision for their organization, community, or cause
    • Individual identifies and employs innovative solutions to challenges as well as current conditions
    • Individual develops realistic goals and action plans connected to their vision
  • Valuing Others:
    • Individual seeks to understand the community in which they are a part
    • Individual undertakes opportunities to serve their communities
    • Individual appropriately integrates differing viewpoints and experiences for maximum organizational performance
  • Integration and Meaningful Action:
    • Individual demonstrates resiliency in the face of challenges
    • Individual demonstrates the ability to take appropriate action
  • Ethics and Integrity:
    • Individual makes decisions in alignment with their personal and organizational values
    • Individual demonstrates ethical and equitable behaviors through their decisions and actions
  • Connection and Collaboration:
    • Individual recognizes and identifies individual and collective behaviors that enhance or impede the group process
    • Individual engages in open, direct, and respectful conversation with others
    • Individual addresses and resolves conflict with civility

Outstanding Junior Leader Award
The Outstanding Junior Leader Award recognizes a junior for exemplary leadership, service, and commitment to the University community. This award recognizes outstanding motivation and initiation, as well as strong evidence of continued student leadership, by an outstanding junior student to the Washington University community.
Winner of this award will have demonstrated the following:

  • Self Awareness:
    • Individual appropriately applies their learning and leadership style and strengths
    • Individual actively seeks, evaluates, and when appropriate, incorporates feedback
    • Individual recognizes their own multiple identities, experiences and biases and how these affect their ability to lead.
  • Vision and Strategy:
    • Individual defines and articulates a vision for their organization, community, or cause
    • Individual identifies and employs innovative solutions to challenges as well as current conditions
    • Individual develops realistic goals and action plans connected to their vision
  • Valuing Others:
    • Individual seeks to understand the community in which they are a part
    • Individual undertakes opportunities to serve their communities
    • Individual appropriately integrates differing viewpoints and experiences for maximum organizational performance
  • Integration and Meaningful Action:
    • Individual demonstrates resiliency in the face of challenges
    • Individual demonstrates the ability to take appropriate action
  • Ethics and Integrity:
    • Individual makes decisions in alignment with their personal and organizational values
    • Individual demonstrates ethical and equitable behaviors through their decisions and actions
  • Connection and Collaboration:
    • Individual recognizes and identifies individual and collective behaviors that enhance or impede the group process
    • Individual engages in open, direct, and respectful conversation with others
    • Individual addresses and resolves conflict with civility.

Outstanding Senior Leader Award
The Outstanding Senior Leader Award recognizes a senior for exemplary leadership, service, and commitment to the University community. This award recognizes outstanding motivation and initiation, as well as strong evidence of continued student leadership and mentorship, by a student in their senior year at Washington University.
Winner of this award will have demonstrated the following:

  • Self Awareness:
    • Individual appropriately applies their learning and leadership style and strengths
    • Individual recognizes their own multiple identities, experiences and biases and how these affect their ability to lead.
  • Vision and Strategy:
    • Individual evaluates existing conditions to identify opportunities to enhance organizational effectiveness
  • Valuing Others:
    • Individual seeks to understand the community in which they are a part
    • Individual undertakes opportunities to serve their communities
    • Individual appropriately integrates differing viewpoints and experiences for maximum organizational performance
  • Integration and Meaningful Action:
    • Individual demonstrates resiliency in the face of challenges
    • Individual demonstrates the ability to take appropriate action
  • Ethics and Integrity:
    • Individual makes decisions in alignment with their personal and organizational values
    • Individual demonstrates ethical and equitable behaviors through their decisions and actions
  • Connection and Collaboration:
    • Individual empowers, utilizes, and motivates others
    • Individual recognizes and identifies individual and collective behaviors that enhance or impede the group process
    • Individual engages in open, direct, and respectful conversation with others
    • Individual addresses and resolves conflict with civility.
    • Individual Prepares and empowers future leaders to ensure sustained community effectiveness.

Advisor of the Year Award
The Advisor of the Year Award recognizes the outstanding contributions of a faculty or staff adviser to a student organization.

Advisers serve as guides, mentors and leaders to their respective student organizations. Individuals recognized for this award demonstrate an exceptional commitment to working with students outside of the classroom as well as both an interest and expertise that benefits their respective student organizations.