Pillars award praises weekly-paid staff

Now in its 15th year, Penn’s Models of Excellence program has honored more than 600 notable staff members who reflect initiative, leadership, increased efficiency, and commitment to service.

This year, for the first time, the program, operated by the Division of Human Resources, will offer a new way of honoring staff members who add value to the Penn community with the addition of its Pillars of Excellence program, geared toward weekly-paid full- and part-time staff.

“Pillars of Excellence is about recognizing weekly-paid staff who are special—whether for a one-time special project they’ve done or for continual excellence,” says Patricia Zebley, Models of Excellence consultant. “They’re going above and beyond their normal job duties, and are making a difference.”

Individuals interested in nominating an employee for an award should be prepared to submit a brief description of the nominee’s job responsibilities, as well as how he or she has exceeded those responsibilities. Nominations must also include a note from the nominee’s supervisor and two University reference letters that corroborate the nomination’s main points.

“The most important thing about writing the nomination is to make sure you cover all aspects of the Standards of Excellence to show that this person is exceptional,” Zebley says.

A selection committee will judge the Pillars of Excellence nominees separate from the Models of Excellence nominees, using the Standards of Excellence set for the Pillars award. Pillars of Excellence honors are awarded to those who demonstrate a commitment to excellence, provide exemplary customer service, exhibit exceptional resourcefulness or innovation, improve processes to save time or money, or contribute to a positive and collaborative work environment. 

“When you have a university like Penn with world-renowned faculty and students who are exceptional, it’s very important to recognize the staff who are the backbone of the University,” Zebley says.

Zebley adds that there is no set limit on the number of awards granted. Honorees will receive both a symbolic and cash award, and all nominees will receive a certificate.

Nominations for the Models of Excellence Award, Model Supervisor Award, and Pillars of Excellence Award are all due by Monday, Nov. 11. All nominees, nominators, and campus supporters are invited to the award ceremony, which will take place on April 3, 2014.

For more information on how to nominate a staff member, visit the Human Resources website. For more questions about the nomination process, email models@hr.upenn.edu.

Pillars of Excellence