The University Awards are among the most prestigious awards presented at KU. These awards were established to recognize students who embody service excellence, dedication, or whose academic achievements remain stellar.
Each recipient is recognized during a surprise in-class presentation, and the award recipients’ photos are included in the Commencement Program.
There are two ways for students to be included in the pool of applicants for the University Awards. You do not need to be nominated to apply for any University Awards.
- Students may be nominated by a faculty/staff member or friend. Nominations are completed and submitted online. The student will be notified of the nomination and will need to submit a completed University Awards application.
- Without being nominated, a student may complete an application and submit it online to the University Awards Committee.
Go to KU Academic Works and select "University Awards". Then "Sign In" in the upper right hand corner to begin your application. Each application must include:
- Completed application form
- Current resume or curriculum vitae (PDF), which includes a list of activities
- Personal statement (PDF)
- Contact information for letter of recommendation author
Letter of Recommendation
Applicants should request one letter of recommendation from a faculty member, adviser, mentor, employer or peer.
University Awards and Descriptions
The Class of 1913 Award – the Class of 1913 established the award. The award is given annually to two members of the senior class of the University of Kansas. The gift states: “who, by their evidenced intelligence, devotion to their studies, and personal character, give promise of such usefulness to society.” The overriding criterion for this award is a stellar academic record. Leadership, involvement and service are not compelling factors. On more than one occasion this award has been presented to a student that none of the committee members knew. Recipients usually intend to pursue graduate studies.
The Agnes Wright Strickland Award – The award was established in 1953 in memory of Agnes Wright Strickland. Two awards are given annually to graduating seniors which consist of a lifetime membership in the University of Kansas Alumni Association. No GPA requirement but the expectation is a respectable academic record. The criteria for this award is a good academic record with demonstrated leadership in matters of University concern, respect among fellow students and the expectation the award winner will serve the University throughout their life. This award goes to two high profile student leaders, respected by their peers, who will be an active member of the KU Alumni Association. (number of awards dependent on monies available)
The Donald K. Alderson Memorial Award – The award was established in 1983 in memorial to Donald Alderson, former Dean of Men and first Dean of Educational Services. The recipient is a graduating senior. No minimum GPA. This award goes to an active student whose contributions benefit other students. Recipients many times are not the highest elected officers of an organization, but rather is the organization officer or member that could always be counted on to see a program, project or service completed. The award recipient is always concerned about the greater good. The outgoing, very involved student who can be counted upon.
Rusty Leffel Concerned Student Award – The award was established in 1973 by a group of graduating seniors to honor their friend and fellow student, Rusty Leffel. Three awards are given and any classification of student is eligible. No GPA requirement. This award goes to a student who has demonstrated a real concern for furthering the ideals of the University and higher education. Recipients many times have lobbied the legislature on critical university issues. Some have been student body president with extensive interaction with University administrators or the Board of Regents. Some have been graduate students who have re-energized or activated programs and services. Recipients have made a significant institutional difference for KU students.
The Alexis F. Dillard Student Involvement Award – The award was established in December 1993 to recognize Alexis who was to graduate in May 1993. On December 11, 1992, he was reported missing, and after an intense search, he was never found. Presented to two graduating seniors with a minimum 3.00 GPA. Recipients are graduating seniors who have been actively involved in campus-wide activities or efforts. It recognizes two seniors whose contributions have been significant but have gone largely unrecognized. The recipients are involved, but unsung heroes. (number of awards dependent on monies available)
The Caryl K. Smith Student Leader Award – The award was established in 1993 by the Panhellenic Association in honor of former Dean of Students, Caryl K. Smith. The award is presented to a graduating senior fraternity or sorority member with high academic achievement (minimum 3.5 GPA), chapter involvement and commitment, the national organization, the KU sorority and fraternity community, the University and the Lawrence community. Recipient is an outstanding Greek leader.
The Kathryn Nemeth Tuttle Student Scholar Award - The award was established in 2012 in honor of Kathryn Nemeth-Tuttle. It is presented to a graduating senior scholarship hall student (currently residing in a scholarship hall). Recipients shall have demonstrated academic focus (minimum GPA 3.75 on 4.0 scale), leadership in the scholarship hall and also commitment to the University of Kansas and the Lawrence community. The recipient should be an exceptional representative of what distinguishes the KU scholarship hall student: commitment both to academic excellence and the cooperative ideal of the scholarship hall system at the University of Kansas.