Models of Excellence celebrates 25 years

At the 25th Models of Excellence ceremony, 52 Penn staff members will be recognized in three categories.

models of excellence celebration
Image: Courtesy of Penn Human Resources

On April 9, the University will host the 25th Models of Excellence award ceremony at 4 p.m. in the Harrison Auditorium at the Penn Museum. The ceremony, followed by a reception in the Chinese Rotunda, will honor 52 staff members for their outstanding accomplishments. 

“The program highlights Penn staff connections to the University’s successes,” says Karen Kille, manager, quality of work-life programs, in the Division of Human Resources. “It positively affects not only those who are recognized, but also fellow honorees, those who submit nominations and references, the people who work with the honorees, and the honorees’ families and friends—all of whom are invited to the award ceremony and reception.”

Models of Excellence awards will be presented by senior University administrators.

The program began in 1999 to recognize staff who support the innovations of faculty, students, and alumni across the globe. More than 1,800 people have been recognized since the awards began. They’ve been honored for varied work accomplishments: success in securing new grants for research and developing plans to bring those projects to life, supporting development opportunities for staff, and keeping University operations open, accessible, and resilient in the face of unprecedented challenges like COVID-19. 

The awards evolved in 2007 to recognize supervisors with the Model Supervisor Award, and again in 2014 with the Pillars of Excellence Awards, honoring contributions of staff in supporting roles. The program adapted again in 2021 with the Supporting Penn Through COVID-19 Award and the Return to Campus Work Award in 2022, created to recognize the above-and-beyond efforts made during the pandemic. That award considers navigating challenges like remote work, finding new ways to work safely on-site, and improving morale during difficult times. 

This year’s winners are being celebrated for a variety of achievements, such as accessible services that challenge the stigma around mental health, offering specialized assistance for personal and academic challenges; and creating more sustainable housekeeping, and engaging staff through outstanding leadership. The honorees work in a range of schools and centers, from Penn Libraries to Alumni Relations, and Morris Arboretum & Gardens to the Perelman School of Medicine—just to cite a few.

“Our staff enable Nobel Prize winning-research, cultural innovations, environmental solutions, health care and technological advances, Olympic medalists, and more,” says Kille. “The award program highlights accomplishments that reflect initiative, leadership, increased efficiency, and a deep commitment to service that we want to share with the Penn community.”

Penn community members interested in attending the ceremony are encouraged to register in advance