Nominate superstar staffers for a Models of Excellence Award

Know any superstar staff members at Penn? Then nominate them in the Models of Excellence Award program, which honors University staff who have gone above and beyond in their job responsibilities to create positive change on campus. The deadline to submit nominations is Monday, Nov. 3.

Since 1999, the Models program, which is run through the Division of Human Resources (HR), has honored more than 750 staffers for their achievements.

“Before the program began, HR realized that there was a lot of recognition for our faculty and for our students, but unfortunately, the staff at that time was not being recognized,” says Pat Zebley, special events consultant for HR’s Learning and Education Program. “Of course, without the staff, you can’t have a university as prestigious as the University of Pennsylvania.”

Penn employees can recognize staffers in four ways: the Models of Excellence Award, the Model Supervisor Award, the Pillars of Excellence Award, and the Commitment to Excellence award.

The program began with the Models of Excellence Award, which is given to staff members who demonstrate initiative, innovate, and exhibit a commitment to service in ways that exceed the expectations of internal and external customers. This award can go to an individual or members of a team.

The Model Supervisor Award is designed to recognize extraordinary supervisors on campus who practice fair and consistent procedures, foster a collaborative workplace, and communicate goals clearly.

New last year, the Pillars of Excellence Award is for weekly staffers who are not in supervisory positions, but who consistently excel in their daily role and keep the University running smoothly.

Finally, the Commitment to Excellence Award recognizes staffers who perform the duties of their job within extraordinary circumstances. The very first winners of this award were 125 staffers at the School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Campus, who had to scrub and sanitize buildings after an extremely rare salmonella outbreak. Nominations for this award are made by the Vice Dean, Vice Provost, and Vice President levels or above.

Pillars of Excellence, Models of Excellence, and Model Supervisors award winners receive a $500 cash prize and symbolic award. Pillars of Excellence and Models of Excellence honorable mention honorees and Model Supervisor finalists receive a $250 cash prize and symbolic award. The 2015 awards ceremony and reception will be held on March 24, 2015 in Irvine Auditorium.

Zebley says the primary goal of the Models program is to inform the Penn community about the accomplishments of their colleagues and learn from their good deeds.  

“We’ve honored staff from all levels of the University: a woman who is a receptionist in the oncology department, people who help with PennMOVES, people who impact the world,” she says. “When you hear these stories, it makes you feel pretty good to be part of this group.”

A rotating selection committee reviews the Models of Excellence, Pillars of Excellence, and Model Supervisor nominations.

To receive assistance writing nominations, email HR at

For more information, visit the HR website.

Models of Excellence