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About University Student Awards

Each year, a select group of graduating students are honored with University Student Awards for achievements in service, scholarship and leadership. Nominations open in January. 

Award Criteria

This award goes to one graduating undergraduate student, who receives $1,000.

The President's Award is the highest award for undergraduate students and is presented to a graduating student whose accomplishments during the course of their undergraduate years are truly exceptional and reflect the highest ideals of American University.

Nominees will have demonstrated exceptional academic achievement, integrity, selflessness, leadership, and service to the Washington, D.C., community. They will have contributed significantly to building community and promoting the understanding and acceptance of cultural and racial diversity on the AU campus.

In addition, the nominees must be eligible for Latin Honors:

  • Achievement of a minimum 3.67 cumulative grade point average and a semester GPA of 3.67 (for the most recent completed semester)
  • Completion of at least 60 credit hours required for the degree in residence at American University 

This award is named in honor of Provost Emeritus Scott A. Bass to acknowledge his longstanding commitment to and support of academic excellence and high-quality, cutting edge research at the undergraduate level.  It is presented to two graduating undergraduate students, who receive $1,000 each.

This highly competitive award recognizes the nominee's sustained excellent academic record and exceptional academic success as exemplified by extraordinary publications, research, creative work, merit awards, or competitive selection for presentations at regional and national academic societies and conferences, or participation and recognition at case, brand, or product competitions.

This award goes to two graduating master's, MFA, LLM, JD, SJD, EdD, or PhD students, who receive $500 each.

This highly competitive award recognizes the nominee's sustained excellent academic record and exceptional academic success as exemplified by extraordinary publications, research, creative work, merit awards, or competitive selection for presentations at regional and national academic societies and conferences, or participation and recognition at case, brand, or product competitions.

This award goes to two graduating students (undergraduate, graduate or law), who receive $500 each.

Requires demonstration of unique contributions and sustained service that will leave a lasting impact on the University community, whether through student government, public service, organizational leadership, or a combination of several categories.

Eleven students receive Student Achievement Awards, named after significant individuals from AU's history. Each of the recipients must be graduating undergraduate students. Awards amounts vary. Student Achievement Awards require demonstration of unique contributions as well as service benefiting the American University community. Criteria are very specific; find out more about the awards and their recent recipients to learn more!

Bruce Hughes Award

A senior who has performed outstanding service to the University community and demonstrated unusual depth and maturity in leadership abilities. 

Carlton Savage Award

An international student who has contributed most to increase intercultural understanding at the University.

Catheryn Seckler-Hudson Award

A senior who best exemplifies qualities of character and achievement, while making significant contributions to Student Government.

Charles C. Glover Award

A senior who has best combined citizenship and business leadership in service to the University community.

Charles W. Van Way Award

A student who has contributed the most to building community at the University.

Evelyn Swarthout Hayes Award

A student who has contributed most to the University through the arts, while maintaining a high academic average.

Fletcher Scholar Award

A senior who best exemplifies integrity and selflessness in citizenship on and off campus, together with academic achievement.

Gail Short Hanson Award for Advocacy

A student who has demonstrated principled and informed leadership in advancing a cause, policy or program objective that benefits the campus community or a community beyond the campus. 

Harold Johnson Award

A student who has contributed most to promoting understanding and acceptance of cultural and racial diversity within the University community.

Kinsman-Hurst Award

A senior who has made significant contributions to the University while maintaining a high scholastic record and serving in Student Government or the Student Conduct system.

Stafford H. Cassell Award

A senior who best exemplifies the traits of Stafford Cassell - total, selfless dedication to the University, profound energy, reliability, intellectual curiosity, friendliness, and helpfulness.


How to Nominate 

Nominations for 2023 University Student Awards are closed.

Nominations Are Closed

Optional Supporting Material

The deadline for uploading recommendation letters and other optional supporting material has passed.

Recommendation Period is Closed


Questions (and Do's and Dont's)

Yes. But in that case, it will strengthen the nomination to have a recommendation letter from someone else. (Though this is not required.) Please see the tips below to avoid common errors!

  • Please do not have a group of friends submit a flood of nominations lacking in content. It is strongly advised that friends who wish to support an existing nomination submit recommendation letters - NOT another nomination. One nomination is good; three nominations are more than sufficient. Please note that we exercise the right to cap the nominations at six, and will reject excessive nominations that are submitted without narratives. As wonderful as it is to support a friend, it is important to do so in a way that will be truly helpful.
  • Please do not submit nominations without narratives or with minimal content. A nomination with no content is not helpful, unless you have written a separate recommendation letter. Please note, too, that minimal content - such as a single sentence or two that says "so-and-so is a great person and very helpful and deserves an award" - is not a strong nomination. A single compelling nomination, or one nomination with a single compelling recommendation letter, will beat multiple nominations with no content every time. 
  • If self-nominating, recommendations are strongly advised. Sometimes it's easiest to self-nominate, for various reasons - including the simplicity of filling out the form. This does NOT harm your chances! But please do submit recommendations from faculty, staff, peers, or others who know your work and impact and can speak to why you're a strong candidate for a particular award.
  • Please be intentional in your choice of awards, and do not nominate yourself for an excessive number. Each award is for a specific contribution and has its own criteria. Certainly some students qualify for multiple awards, and multiple nominations are very welcome. But a self-nomination for all awards available will not help your chances. 

The nomination narrative is part of the nomination itself. It's written into a text box on the nomination form by the nominator. (Of course, the nominator is clearly recommending the person they nominate! But it's not a "recommendation letter.")

In contrast, a recommendation letter is an additional recommendation, from a person who did not nominate the student but supports the nomination. It's uploaded after the nomination has been created. It can be helpful but is not required.


Most winners have a single compelling nomination. It is, of course, possible that more than one faculty member, staff member, or peer will nominate the same person - and that's great. But there is no advantage to having multiple nominations. 

One is fine. None is also fine, if there is a compelling nomination narrative.

The main consideration with recommendation letters is the case they make for the student for the particular award.

As a rule, we prefer no more than three recommendation letters. Quality is more important than quantity! 

Absolutely! Students can be nominated in multiple categories (President's Award, Scholarship, Outstanding Service, and Student Achievement). They can also be nominated for multiple awards within the 11 Student Achievement Award category.

Yes. You can nominate students for multiple awards, nominate several students for the same awards, or support nominations of multiple students with recommendation letters.

Yes, although it's not really a "nomination" until it's submitted. You can save it in draft and keep working on it until you're ready to submit. But the student cannot upload support material until they're officially nominated, so please try to finalize it early and submit! After you hit "submit," you can still go back and edit the nomination until the deadline.

Please don't. It doesn't help, because it's just a duplicate - assuming you've written the nomination narrative on the form, as per the directions.

In order to nominate, you must write a nomination narrative on the form, where you say why you're nominating them. This is your "recommendation," and there's enough space in the box to make a solid case. 

It is possible to simply write "recommendation letter attached" in the nomination narrative box, and then upload a recommendation letter as supporting material. But that's not the preferred approach.

Recommendation letters are supposed to come from people who are NOT the nominators, and are considered supporting material.

A recommendation letter, yes. A nomination, no.

The nomination must exist first. All nominations must come from within AU. However, we welcome supplemental materials (such as a recommendation letter) from anyone who knows your work - including non-AU indicviduals such as an internship supervisor, a retired or former faculty or staff member, etc. 

Please connect first by email with the contact person for your award (see names and emails above in the "Contacts" box), as you or the recommender may need to email it to them in order to attach it to the nomination.

Please try to upload into the system by following the instructions above - it's really quite easy! If you do run into problems, though, you can email the appropriate contact for the award (listed above) with a request to help out.

Only letters in the form of documents can be attached to nominations by our team. An email message cannot be used as a recommendation letter. There must be a separate document for each recommendation (e.g. you can't send a single letter and then get it attached to multiple awards. Each award needs a separate letter.)

Recommenders from outside AU may email the appropriate contact for the award category or send their letter to the nominee, who can upload it.

2023 University Student Award winners

Announcement ·

Meet 2023’s University Student Award Winners

Read More

Past Winners

View past winners of the University Student Awards! These students have demonstrated excellence in service, leadership and academic scholarship.

View Past Recipients