Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision nomination

Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision nomination (PDF)  

Use this form to:

  • Nominate an exemplary faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in graduate student supervision at the University of Waterloo.

Award details:

What is the Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision?

Graduate student supervision requires complex interaction between graduate students and the graduate supervisor. Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA), in collaboration with the Graduate Student Association (GSA), established this award to recognize exemplary faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in graduate student supervision, through being a mentor, advisor, role model, humanist and a strategist who exemplifies a high level of energy and ingenuity.

Recipients of this prestigious award receive $1,000 (taxable) and are recognized at convocation.

A list of previous winners can be found at online.

Who can be nominated?

  • nominees must be faculty members who are on a tenure-track position, are tenured or retired within the nomination year; 
  • faculty members must have had a career in academia, as a faculty member, for at least 10 years;
  • preference will be given to those who have been at the University of Waterloo for a minimum of five years;
  • a supervisor who has previously won the award may be re-nominated after 10 years;
  • normally, three faculty members will be recognized annually.

What is the nomination process?

Nominations are initiated by a current or former graduate student (known as “nominator”) who is/was directly supervised by the nominee (faculty member). The nominator solicits support from other past and present graduate students of the nominee who have had the opportunity to receive guidance or informal mentoring from them. The nominator must also receive support from senior academic colleagues (e.g., Chair or Associate Chair/Graduate Officer of the Department, Faculty Dean, Faculty Associate Dean).

What are the critical steps in the nomination process?

Nominators must put together a nomination package and submit it to the graduate co-ordinator of the nominees’ department by November 12. Unsuccessful nominations will be kept in the department or Faculty for one year and can be re-nominated the following year; nominators must check with the department or Faculty as appropriate in order to access the package that was submitted (new letters may be added or can replace existing ones).

A nomination package is comprised of the following:

  1. A completed nomination form;
  2. CV “title page” followed by current CV of the nominee
    • CV can be obtained by:
      • checking the nominees own web page profile;
      • contacting the graduate co-ordinator of the faculty member’s department;
      • asking the nominee for it if they are aware they are being nominated for this award
  3. Supporting senior colleagues “title page” followed by the supporting letter(s) from one or more senior academic colleagues.
    • Examples of senior colleagues includes Department Chair or Associate Chair/Graduate Officer, Faculty Dean, Faculty Associate Dean, faculty members who serve on advisory committees with the nominee; in other words, someone who has had the capacity to observe the competencies of the nominee and can provide support and validate the nominee’s working relationship, supervisory style and commitment to their students.
  4. A summary of current and past students “title page” followed by a list (table format preferred) with the following information: name, level of graduate student and time frame supervised, current position (group PhD students, Master’s students and Postdoc positions separately)
    • A list of previously supervised students can be obtained by:
      • checking the faculty member’s own web page;
      • contacting the department graduate co-ordinator;
      • asking the nominee for it if they are aware they are being nominated for this award
  5. Supporting letters from current and prior graduate students “title page” followed by a minimum of five signed letters from current and former graduate students (letters from current undergraduate students are not accepted; letters from current postdoctoral fellows are not accepted unless the nominated faculty member was also their PhD supervisor);

In regards to the supporting letters, there is no maximum, however, the nominator must indicate on the nomination form the top 10 letters (including those from senior academic colleagues) they would like reviewed by the Selection Committee. The majority of the letters in the submitted package must be from the University of Waterloo, not other institutions.

Supporting letters should describe the outstanding supervisory record of the nominee under the following criteria:

  1. Supervisor as an advisor. This could include but is not limited to:
    • effective guidance and planning of graduate research for his/her students;
    • established mechanism for ongoing interaction with graduate students;
    • timely reading and provision of feedback on students' work;
    • maintaining his/her role as an advisor while instilling independence among his/her students;
    • fostering and facilitating students' skills for problem solving, critical thinking, self-directed learning and effective communicating;
    • promoting dissemination and presentation of student's research result
  2. Supervisor as a humanist/mentor which may include the following:
    • commitment to students’ welfare;
    • provision of caring atmosphere to the students;
    • willingness to provide guidance which may not be related to academic matters;
    • providing guidance related to student career goals

Note: nomination package materials, including the list of letter writers, must remain confidential and not be shared with the nominee.

What is the department responsible for after receiving nominations?

  • Department collects and reviews nomination packages received by November 12
  • Department committee determines which packages to submit to the Faculty for further selection and submits to Faculty by Faculty-set deadline
  • Department provides one cover letter from the Department Chair (or senior level designate) for the packages submitted to the Faculty. The cover letter should highlight key points in the supporting letters and a ranking if there is more than one nomination going forward from the department (the cover letter is separate from the supporting letters from Waterloo academic colleagues and does not need to be submitted to GSPA)
  • Department communicates with nominators to let them know if their nomination package was sent forward to the Faculty or not

What is the Faculty responsible for?

  • Faculty collects all nomination packages submitted by departments by a Faculty-set deadline and conducts a review and ranking
  • Faculty provides a cover sheet containing rationale for their rankings and submits selected packages only (based on maximums below) to GSPA by December 11  
  • Faculty communicates with departments to let them know the status of their nomination packages

Maximum # of submissions permitted:


Maximum # permitted for submission to GSPA

Health, Environment

Up to 2*

Arts, Engineering, Mathematics, Science

Up to 3*

*Under exceptional circumstances one additional nomination will be considered.

What are the deadlines?

  • November 12 – nomination packages due to department graduate office from nominator
  • Faculty-set deadline – ranked nominations from departments due to Faculty by Faculty-set deadline
  • December 11 – ranked submissions of nomination packages from Faculty due to GSPA

Who makes final selection?

All nominations will be reviewed by an institutional-level Committee consisting of the following:

  • Associate Vice-President Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs or designate
  • Advisory Committee on Scholarships & Awards (comprised of faculty members from each Faculty)
  • GSA President or designate 
  • One faculty member nominated by the Faculty Association


  • Communication of the outcome of their submission will be sent to the primary nominator and appropriate Faculty by GSPA
  • Results of the competition will be communicated to the Faculties by GSPA
  • Successful candidates will receive a formal letter of congratulations by GSPA
  • Results will be published via standard university communication channels (i.e. Daily Bulletin, Department and/or Faculty websites)

Questions regarding this award can be directed to the Associate Director, Graduate Financial Aid & Awards in Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Last updated: October 13, 2020