Excellence Awards

Each year CACUSS will recognize the outstanding contributions of members who are transforming student affairs and higher education across Canada. Being recognized by one of these awards is a mark of distinction, a high honour that allows us to recognize the outstanding work of leaders and/or teams in our field for their achievements.

Award nominations and supporting documentation are due to contact@cacuss.ca no later than July 30, 2021.

Please submit all of your documentation in ONE email. Please name your documents as requested in the nomination form.


Award of Honour (maximum 3 awards per year)


Established 1996, the CACUSS Award of Honour is the highest honour given to a member of CACUSS. The award will be given on the basis of merit and presented at the annual CACUSS conference. Normally, no more than three awards will be given in any one year.

The Award of Honour is presented in recognition of the following:

  • Significant achievement and distinguished contribution to the development and promotion of student services
  • Active participation within CACUSS, committees, or communities of practice. Active participation includes long-standing involvement (10+ years) with the association through participation at annual CACUSS conferences, workshop facilitation, presentations, undertaking research, mentoring, leadership or advocacy on a national issue, distinguished service on the CACUSS Board of Directors and/or significant leadership in a Community of Practice or Committee.
  • Award of Honour recipients are well-respected contributors to Student Affairs in Canada and have made significant contributions to their campus communities.
  • Advanced mastery in most CACUSS Student Affairs & Services Competency areas

How to Apply/Nominate:

Complete the nomination form, with nomination letter. Submission of 4 letters of support detailing the extent to which the candidate has met the criteria for consideration, outlining their contributions and service to the profession, their campus, and to CACUSS.

Criteria for Consideration:

  • Long-standing membership in CACUSS (minimum of 10 years)
  • 4 Letters of support should clearly outline:
    • How the nominee has demonstrated significant and distinguished contribution over a number of years advancing student affairs and services on their campus and beyond (e.g. regionally, provincially or nationally).  
    • Ways in which the individual has actively participated in CACUSS.
    • Other contributions (national initiatives, advocacy, mentoring, research etc.) that have impacted the profession regionally or nationally.
    • Describe the nominee’s advanced mastery in most areas of the CACUSS SAS Competency model.
  • Award of Honour nominees will be reviewed using the above criteria and names of nominees will be submitted to the Board of Directors for approval.

Award of Honour Rubric

Award Details:

Award recipients shall receive an etched glass plaque/trophy and a certificate. The awarding of the certificate and acknowledgement of the honoree will occur at the fall awards event and award winners will be profiled in a significant way through CACUSS communication channels. A letter of acknowledgement will be sent to the recipient(s)’s institution.

Award of Excellence in Student Affairs Award (New in 2021)


The Award of Excellence in Student Affairs Award is presented in recognition of the following: 

  • Shown leadership within their role(s) in Student Affairs, including on the campus(es) where they work and/or within their specific area of expertise and/or the Student Affairs field at large.
  • Active participation of 10+ years in, but not limited to, the following: developing and support department and institution-wide initiatives, role-specific service/programming, professional association membership and leadership, mentorship programs, conferences, presentations, and research.
  • Significant acheivement and distinguised contribution to the development and promotion of Student Affairs and Services. 
  • Award of Excellence in Student Affairs award recipients are well-respected contributors on their campuses, department, and practice specific communities. 
  • Recognized by their peers as having made significant contributions to their area of expertise or to the Student Affairs field. 

How to Apply/Nominate:

Submit nomination application online, along with four (4) support letters from each of the following: a peer within their institution or area of expertise; a staff member who has been mentored by or reported to the individual during their career in Student Affairs; a person in a position of leadership within their current institution (e.g., Director, Managing Director, AVP, VP)

Criteria for Consideration:

  • Active participation of 10+ years in student affairs, as outlined above
  • 4 Letters of support should clearly outline:
    • How the nominee has demonstrated significant and distinguished contribution over a number of years advancing student affairs and services on their campus and beyond (e.g. regionally, provincially or nationally).  
    • Contributions (national initiatives, advocacy, mentoring, research etc.) that have impacted the profession regionally or nationally.
    • Reflect the above description.

Award Rubric

Award Details:

The recipient will receive an etched glass award/plaque. The Award will be presented at the fall awards show, details TBD. 

Graduate Student Research Award (New in 2021)


Celebrating excellence in our field of study is important to CACUSS. Every year major papers, Master's theses, and research projects contribute immensely to the Student Affairs profession and directly benefit students and professionals. As an association, we strive to highlight these significant contributions.

The purpose of this award is to encourage and acknowledge practitioner-scholars in student affairs.  Additionally, the award will recognize exemplary work that demonstrates scholarly excellence and that makes a substantial contribution to knowledge in the field of student affairs in Canada.

Major papers, Master's theses, and research projects considered for recognition must align with at least one of the broad themes within the CACUSS Research Agenda (2018-2021).  The themes are:

  1. Supporting the Success of a Diverse and Changing Student
    • This theme focuses research on the post-secondary student experience. This broad theme allows a focus on specific demographic areas or issues of concern related to issues that impact students. This theme may also focus on the intersection of interventions and programs with demographics/specific student populations. Examples of focus in this theme may include Idigenous students; international students; first-generation students; gender in STEM students; campus mental health issues for students; technology and its impact on students; evaluation of the efficacy of support services/supports/programs; etc.
  2. The Student Affairs & Services Profession in Canada
    • This teheme allows for research to better understand the profession of student affairs, the people working in this area of practice, the impact of institutional structure/type on the people and the profession, issues of concern to the profession and the professional development. Examples of focus in this theme could include changes in the field; issues affecting professionals in the field; changing nature of student affairs work; leadership; identity, competencies, and/or the mental health of professionals practicing in the field; and/or credentialism/professionalization of the field. 
  3. Emerging Issues for Student Affairs & Services
    • This theme is an opportunity for CACUSS to identify and support research in emerging Canadian regional and national trends in student affairs and service or in higher education as it relates to the field. Examples of focus in this thematic area could include: decolonizing practice; sexual and gender violence; civility and intolerance; equit, and/or diversity & inclusion.

How to Apply/Nominate:

Submit nomination application online. In addition, the nomination package must include: 

  • A 2 page double-spaced abstract of the major paper, Master's thesis, or research project. Additionally, up to three pages of references, tables, figures in APA format can accompany the abstract and will not be included in the 2-page limit. Please submit the abstract as a .PDF document and use the first few words of the Running Head as the title of the document. Please use this same file name for naming all files. 
  • No identifying information, such as institution, author, committee members or town names, should appear in the abstract. 
  • The abstract should include the following:
    • ​Full Title
    • Research rationale/study's purpose
    • Statement of the hypothesis/problem/research questions;
    • Significant findings and relevance to Canadian student affairs in particular and post-secondary education in general.
      • ​This section should speak directly to at leasat one of the three themes within the CACUSS Research Agenda (Supporting the Success of a Diverse and Changing Student; the Student Affairs & Services Profession in Canada; Emerging Issues for Student Affairs & Services.)
  • The nominee's advisory must sign a certificate statement verifying the applicant has met the degree requirements of hte institution and has been signed off by the nominee's committee between April 1, 2020 and August 1, 2021. Please connect with contact@cacuss.ca regarding the certificate statement. 

Criteria for Consideration:

The overall criterion for selection is scholarly excellence, readability, and contribution to knowledge in the field of student affairs in Canada. Please note that dissertations are not eligible for this award. However, if you are in a Master's, PhD, or other graduate program in which you have completed a major paper, thesis, or research project and meet all other criteria, you can be considered for this award. 


Important Note about the Selection Process:

The selection process for this award will be conducted through a sub-committee of the CACUSS Awards Committee, which will include a member of the CACUSS Awards Committee, a member of the Research Committee, and a member of the Board. If there is a submission in French, we will request an additional ad-hoc member of the sub-committee who is fluent in French. This ad-hoc member must be a member of the organization at the time of adjudication. The nominee and their committee members' identities will be masked from the reviewers. The Awards Committee chair will ensure that major papers, Master's theses, and research projects are not reviewed by sub-committee members from the same institution. Sub-committee members will complete a declaration of conflict of interest at the commencement of the process and will recuse themselves if they are aquainted with the nomineee, committee members, the major paper, Master's thesis, or research project. Self-nominations are acceptable. 

Graduate Student Research Award Rubric

Award Details:

One recipient will be selected annually. Additional nominees may be cited for excellence. The recipient will receive a certificate, free registration to the CACUSS Annual Conference (with the opportunity to present their work at the conference or another event), and free CACUSS membership for one year. CACUSS will share the abstract with the membership as well. The Award will be presented at the fall awards show, details TBD. 

New & Emerging Professionals Award

(maximum 3 awards per year, minimum of 1 recipient from a university and 1 recipient from a college or polytechnic)


The New & Emerging Professionals Award recognizes leadership, growth, and outstanding potential of a professional working in a professional role in any area of student affairs and services for 5 years or less (inclusive of all professional roles at all institutions the individual has been employed). This individual has demonstrated significant growth in the CACUSS Student Affairs and Services Competencies.

How to Apply/Nominate:

Submit nomination application online. A minimum of one letter of support from the individual’s supervisor, or colleague(s) must be submitted in addition to the nomination letter. A current resume or C.V. of the nominee is required.

Criteria for Consideration:

The nomination and support letter clearly outlines the ways in which the nominee has made an impact and gone beyond their role on their campus. Ways in which their commitment to excellence and improving student services should be demonstrated. Specific examples of the nominee’s service, growth in competency areas, and leadership should be provided.

New & Emerging Professionals Award rubric 

Award Details:

The recipient will receive an etched glass award/plaque. The Award will be presented at the fall awards show, details TBD. 

CACUSS Innovation Award


The CACUSS Innovation Award recognizes a new or innovative program or service on a campus that has been developed with participation or leadership by a CACUSS member institution or individual. The program or service exemplifies innovation and excellence, and could serve as a model or example of promising practice for other CACUSS member institutions.

The program/service innovation must be connected to priorities/commitments of CACUSS, as determined by the Board of Directors, which may change from time to time. Currently, the program/service should demonstrate innovation in one of the three areas the Board has committed to in the CACUSS Strategic Plan: Indigenization; Equity, Diversity & Inclusion; and Health & Wellness.

Programs or services can be nominated in one of three categories: Small-size Institution (1 – 9,999 students), Medium-size Institution (10,000 – 19,999 students), or Large-size Institution (20,000 or more students).

How to Apply/Nominate:

Submit award application/nomination online. Applications/Nominations may be submitted by the individual responsible for the program, but it must have the support (2nd nomination) from a supervisor or colleague familiar with the program. It must be clearly articulated in the application

  • The name of the Program/Service that is being nominated
  • The department and individuals involved in its development/execution and success.

Supporting documentation (letters of support and/or additional materials that describe the program and demonstrate program/service success/impact) must be submitted with the nomination/application.

Description of how the program is unique, new, or innovative within Canada, within the region, or institution should be clearly described. Testimonials or assessment data on the program will strengthen the application and should be summarized in the supporting documents.

Criteria for Consideration:

  • Must be a current member of CACUSS.
  • The nomination/application must clearly outline how the program or service is innovative:
    • Degree of Innovation (that improves the institution’s ability to serve students and the community), which may be assessed as the innovativeness of the delivery of a program/service/policy/practice/partnership/etc.; the approach and solution to a challenge; a new product, service, process or technology; the implementation, organization or model underpinning the solution/program/service/etc..
    • Potential Impact, which may be assessed as the potential to create impact on students, staff, faculty, a community of individuals
    • Service Delivery, which may be assessed as the quality of service delivered; support and level of service that assists an individual or group/community;
    • Potential for Sustainability and Scale, which may be assessed as the likeliness that the idea/innovation can be sustained and have significant, long-lasting and increasing impact; the idea/innovation can be scaled or applied to other communities
    • Quality, which may be assessed through the collection of data and metrics
    • Creativity & Originality, which may be assessed by the creativity of an adaptation of an innovation or an original innovation
    • Timeliness; the innovation should not be more than 6 years old, but must have been in existence long enough to have been tested to meet the criteria

CACUSS Innovation Award rubric

Award Details:

The recipient/recipient institution will receive an etched glass award/plaque recognizing the name of the program and institution.  The Award will be presented at the fall awards show, details TBD. 


Excellence in Inclusion Award 


CACUSS's statement on equity, diversity and inclusion provides affirmation of the organization’s commitment to EDI in all of its work and acknowledges that many members have a diversity of lived experiences and often hold multiple identities. This award will honour members who demonstrate a deep and sustained commitment to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion throughout their career, and recognizes outstanding members who use their voice to make their campus, CACUSS and the field of Student Affairs a more just, equitable and inclusive space.

How to Apply/Nominate:

  • Please submit the nomination form and a nomination letter that explains how the nominee exemplifies the purpose and spirit of the award and how the impact of the nominee is sustained and felt by others. The letter should provide specific examples, so it is clear how the nominee has effectively supported and advocated for marginalized groups of people
  • A statement of the history of the nominee, that documents key achievements and supports the nomination
  • Two letters of support from a source separate from the primary nominator


  • Deep and sustained record of professional involvement in activities that promote equity, diversity and inclusion in education
  • Demonstration of active engagement in advocacy for, and advancing of, equity, diversity and inclusion work in the profession through one’s professional practice
  • Reputation for using voice to take a stand on critical issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion, even at reis to one’s reputation and professional practice
  • Is someone whose work has served as a role model, breaks barriers, and helps facilitate employment, opportunities and access for others from diverse backgrounds
  • Is a member in good standing at the time of nomination

Excellence in Inclusion rubric

Award Details:

The recipient will receive TBA. The Award will be presented at the fall awards show, details TBD. 


CACUSS Student Leadership Award

(up to 2 awards given annually, one from a university and one from a college or polytechnic)


The Student Leadership Award is designed to encourage participation and engagement by a student leader in the annual conference. The Award celebrates significant accomplishments to a campus community and encourages student leaders to consider Student Affairs as a career option beyond graduation. The nominee demonstrates a commitment to understanding and growing in a variety of areas of the CACUSS SAS Competency Model.

How to Apply/Nominate:

Submit award nomination online.

Nominations for the Student Leadership Award must come from a current CACUSS member. One additional letter of support must be included.

Criteria for Consideration:

  • The extent to which the student has made significant contributions to their campus community
  • The level of enthusiasm and support for the student as expressed in the nomination letter(s) of support.
  • The potential and/or interest of the student in considering a career/future working in student affairs or other post-secondary role.
  • Demonstration of growth in the CACUSS SAS Competencies.
  • A description of how the student will participate and/or benefit from participation in the Annual Conference.

Nominations which recognize contributions of racialized students, Indigenous students, and students with disabilities are strongly encouraged. Additional consideration will be given to nominations of underrepresented student leaders.

CACUSS Student Leadership Award rubric

Award Details:

The Award is the value of a conference registration bursary. The student will receive a framed certificate to be presented at the Annual Conference.  Institutions nominating students for the Student Leader Award should be prepared to support the student to attend the annual conference (travel & accommodations).