About the Awards

Who’s eligible?

All non-probationary, non-temporary,  full-time and part-time (20-plus hours per week) staff and faculty employees at the Storrs and regional campuses are eligible. Any proposed employee must be in good standing with his/her respective department and the University at the time of nomination. Criteria may differ by award. In order to avoid possible conflicts of interest, no member of the UConn Spirit Awards Committee may nominate staff members. Self-nominations, or nominations by a family member will not be accepted.

UConn Health employees are not eligible for these awards, as UConn Health has its own robust awards program for Farmington-based staff as a result of an earlier campus climate survey there.

How are winners selected?

In complete confidentiality, nominations will be reviewed by the UConn Spirit Awards Committee, which will distinguish one award recipient per category.  In the event a committee member is nominated for an award, he/she will not participate in the review of nominations and selection of the recipient for that particular award.  The Chief Human Resources Officer chairs the committee in a non-voting capacity.

What are the criteria?

The UConn Spirit Awards celebrate individuals and teams who exceed expectations and contribute positively to the workplace and the University. The spirit of the program is to acknowledge outstanding contributions.

Winners will be chosen in the following categories:

Behind the Scenes Award  (New Award for 2022)

The Behind the Scenes Award recognizes a university classified employee who provides support services to the University with a commitment to excellence in their daily work life. This employee is seen, but not often heard, producing high quality work that makes it possible for the University to run smoothly. This person is a role model, mentors others, is dependable, a team player, and shows a commitment to the University through their initiative and outstanding customer service to employees, students and/or visitors, always treating others with dignity and respect.


  • Employee in an hourly, classified service position in the following bargaining units only –  CEUI/NP-2, Police and Fire/NP-5, AFSCME/NP-3 & P-2

Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award is given to a staff member who has contributed significantly to his/her department and University community with enthusiasm, strong work ethic, superior leadership (if applicable), and reliability.  This person has enhanced the UConn brand through their ideas and actions.


  • New to UConn; and
  • Must have held current position within the same department for a minimum of 6 months and less than two years at time of nomination.

Unsung Hero Award

The Unsung Hero Award is awarded to a person who is continually both a real benefit to coworkers and a stable, dependable resource for the entire University. This staff member consistently goes above and beyond, without fanfare or public recognition; fills in when and wherever needed and always performs at a high level; takes initiative to solve problems and improve work situations without being prompted; demonstrates reliability, perseverance, and focus on results.  They help others by sharing knowledge of the Institution’s practices and job-related skills.


  • Continuously goes above and beyond; and
  • Performs their duties with pride.

Team Award

This honor is awarded to a department/group/team (two or more individuals) whose collaboration has demonstrated success and overall contribution to the University.

Note: If an entire department/group/team is nominated, the nomination cannot be submitted by a member within the department/group/team. Nominations may be submitted by a non-group team member.


  • Group of two or more individuals;
  • Can be from different departments/units; and
  • Collaboration has positively impacted the entire University.

University Citizen Award

The University Citizen Award provides an opportunity for employees to recognize a colleague for outstanding service and performance in the workplace. This award exemplifies excellence in exhibiting University workplace values, including honesty, integrity, cooperation, and civility. The award recipient should be a faculty or staff member who motivates or inspires colleagues to continually improve, who has made a professional impact on a colleague, and/or who shares knowledge to help colleagues be successful. The recipient acts as a role model, an inspiration, and/or a source of support in the workplace and demonstrates a dedicated interest in helping colleagues succeed.

Note: This category is not meant for submissions by a supervisor about a subordinate employee, or by an employee about their supervisor.


  • An employee whose collegial nature has helped a colleague or colleagues be successful;
  • Performs duties with steadfast honesty, integrity, cooperation, and civility.

Inclusive Excellence Award

Inclusive Excellence means putting our community values into action and creating a campus climate where all members belong, thrive and succeed.

The Inclusive Excellence Award recognizes a university employee who exemplifies a commitment to diversity and inclusion in their daily work life, creating and sustaining an environment where all individuals are respected and valued. This award recipient demonstrates measurable progress in promoting and sustaining innovative diversity and inclusion efforts within their campus community.


  • Builds awareness, understanding, and relationships in the name of diversity and inclusion;
  • Creates, sponsors or actively promotes programs, initiatives, or projects in the area of diversity and inclusion;
  • Acknowledges and rewards exemplary individual or team behaviors that promote diversity and inclusion.