2022 Courageous Change Leader Awards Nominations Open

The Division of Student Affairs established six commitment statements identifying how we expect staff to approach their work holistically supporting students in the development of meaningful lives. These commitment statements are the overarching expectations for our work in this student-centered environment.

Award Criteria

  • Is actively employed by the Division of Student Affairs at the time of recognition.
  • Was marked as meets or exceeds overall on their last performance evaluation cycle.
  • Must not have been placed on any step of performance correction within the last year.
  • Must not have been a previous recipient of the award in which they’re nominated.


Courageous Change Leader
The Courageous Change Leader award is the highest honor bestowed on a staff member within the Division of Student Affairs. It was created to honor the individuals who have embodied the commitment statements outlined in our strategic plan. This recognition is awarded annually to one or two staff members within the division who have exemplified at least two of these commitments.Starting in the summer of 2022, we are adding two additional awards. Award recipients receive $1,000 honorarium and one additional day off and they are selected by VPLT.

Rising Star
This award recognizes a professional newer to the field (3 years or less) who shows strong potential for excelling in the field of student affairs. This employee is courageously engaged in their new role and provides strong demonstration of the student affairs commitments.Award recipients receive $500 honorarium and one additional day off and are selected by an ad-hoc committee.

Field Changer
This award recognizes a professional (3 years or more) who is a game-changer on campus and within the field. Whether they are a field-changer in their role on the Hilltop or within the professional associations they call home, this individual embodies the SMU spirit of world changers. They also provide strong demonstration of the student affairs commitments. Award recipients receive $500 honorarium and one additional day off ad-hoc committee.

Nomination Process

Through a 1-2 page letter of recommendation, please provide tangible examples of how this nominee demonstrated at least two of these commitments. You may submit individually or submit a collection of letters nominating the same individual. Nominations for different individuals should be submitted separately from each other.

  1. Breaking Down Barriers– We commit to helping students break down the social, physical, and emotional barriers that may inhibit their success.
  2. Modeling the Way– We commit to modeling the way for our students by engaging them with respect and integrity, and by demonstrating congruence in expectation and action.
  3. Innovating Our Work– We commit to a culture of intellectual curiosity and innovation to develop, with student input, new strategies and implement new programs to more effectively serve our campus community.
  4. Acting Responsibly– We commit to being responsible stewards of our resources and influence, and promise to hold ourselves and each other accountable in our daily work.
  5. Being a Positive Agent of Change– We commit to being agents of positive change on our campus and in our communities, excited by what the future holds for SMU and empowered to help shape the future.
  6. Developing World Changers– We commit to purposefully engaging our students as individuals and leaders, to recognize their unique skills, talents, and identities and to help develop each one as a world changer in their own right.

Please submit your nominations for all awards to the Chief of Staff at by May 25th. Make sure to clearly identify the award in which you are nominating someone within your letter.