Honoring outstanding staff with 2021 Models of Excellence awards

Each year, the Models of Excellence program shines a light on the University’s stellar staff.

picture of the front page of the Model of Excellence booklet
Cover of Model of Excellence 2021 keepsake e-book. (Image: Human Resources)

Since 1999, Penn’s Models of Excellence Awards program has recognized the remarkable staff contributions to the University’s mission as a global leader in education, research, and public service. This year, the University is proud to honor the professionals who exemplify the dedication, care, and innovation that helped the Penn community persevere during the pandemic.

Penn coworkers and colleagues nominated a record number of individuals and teams for Models of Excellence Program awards. From this pool, 23 outstanding teams and individuals from schools and centers across the University were chosen to receive 2021 Models of Excellence honors. Together, these 258 staff members embody the best in Penn community accomplishment.

Although the traditional Models of Excellence ceremony could not take place this spring, the University invites the entire Penn community to take a moment to celebrate the 2021 honorees by viewing a commemorative video.

This year’s awards were given in four categories: Models of Excellence, Pillars of Excellence, Model Supervisor, and a special category, Sustaining Penn Through COVID-19.

In April, each Models of Excellence, Pillars of Excellence, Model Supervisor, and Sustaining Penn Through COVID-19 award-winner and winning team member received $500 and a symbolic award. Staff members who have earned Honorable Mentions will receive $250 and a symbolic award.

The Models of Excellence Award recognizes notable staff member accomplishments at Penn that reflect initiative, leadership, increased efficiency, and a deep commitment to service.

“This is the longest-running award category going back to 1999,” says Karen Kille, senior work-life consultant. “This year’s honorees—the large teams and the individuals—carry on a proud staff tradition.”

Introduced in 2014, the Pillars of Excellence Award recognizes the strong foundation and important support Penn’s weekly paid staff members provide to promote the University’s success.

“Pillars honorees work in a range of trades and professions,” says Kille. “The 2021 honorees also happen to represent three different generations of staff, showing how people can grow with Penn at different stages of their careers.”

The annual Model Supervisor Award, established in 2007, is given to a Penn supervisor who demonstrates exemplary behavior and serves as an outstanding role model.

“Penn’s 2021 Model Supervisors managed to accomplish outstanding work with their teams while supporting work-life balance, professional development, and inclusion in a year of challenging transitions,” Kille says.

This year, in response to highly unusual circumstances, Human Resources expanded the Models of Excellence Program to recognize responses by Penn staff for their contributions and extraordinary efforts under challenging circumstances of the pandemic.

Nominations in the Sustaining Penn Through COVID-19 award category showcase those individuals or teams that contributed directly to creating extraordinary outcomes for the Penn community.

They included those who serve in roles maintaining life-sustaining on-campus services and support, delivering mission critical programs and services from their homes, finding new ways to work safely onsite, and improving the morale and well-being of students, staff, and faculty at a time of need.

“As we look forward to the fall, it’s inspiring to remember the determination, care, and innovation these staff members applied to maintaining public health and safety in our Penn community while finding new ways to support continued education and research,” Kille says.

Learn more about the contributions of the 2021 Models of Excellence program honorees by downloading an electronic copy of the special 2021 Models of Excellence keepsake book.

Penn’s premiere staff recognition program will accept nominations for next year’s awards this fall. Visit www.hr.upenn.edu/models for details.