Distinguished Head/Director’s Award

The Distinguished Head/Director’s Award was created in 2021. Our purpose at the University of Arizona is to work together to expand human potential to explore new horizons and enrich life for all. Our mission is to create a world where human potential is realized and we’re all working together to create solutions to big problems, so that life in our communities, in Arizona and on our planet can thrive. Our University’s values that undergird our purpose are integrity, compassion, exploration, adaptation, inclusion, and determination.

The quality and reputation of the University of Arizona has been significantly raised by contributions of those heads and directors whose vision, courage, standards, and effectiveness have been transformative. This Award recognizes such uncommon performance, calling attention to individuals whose leadership and management has raised the standards, expectations, and reputation of the unit as a whole, or who have otherwise brought excellence, innovation, and high ethical standards to the art of being a unit head or director.  


University of Arizona Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost


The Distinguished Head/Director’s Award recognizes outstanding performance by an academic department head or director.


Recipients will receive a Presidential/Provost citation at a ceremony of their peers. They will receive a one-time award of $1,000.

Number of Awards

Up to two awards may be made each year.


Eligible candidates will be department heads or directors of academic unit at the University of Arizona who currently serve or have served within the past two years.

Heads shall be defined as UA employees with administrative appointments in academic units with responsibility for a minimum of three or more of the following:

  • Oversight of 10 or more FTE.
  • Budget decision making for the financial resources of a unit.
  • Assignment of faculty or staff workloads and conduct performance assessment.
  • Oversight of curricula or accountable for accreditation standards.
  • Student recruiting, retention, or performance.
  • Maintenance of, or management under, shared governance and bylaws.
  • Maintenance of relations between a unit and the University, a profession, or in relation to off-campus community.


Candidates will be judged on evidence that they have demonstrated inspirational and practical transformative changes within their unit, have made substantial contributions to the University, and perform highly in those values esteemed for administrators including:

  1.  Building trust by communicating a guiding vision, operating in an ethical manner, being accessible and responsive, maintaining composure, and acknowledging the lessons to be learned from missteps;
  2. Fostering collaboration by effectively managing conflicts, forging partnerships and advancing shared purposes in a manner that includes diverse perspectives in collaborative decision making;
  3. Maximizing resources by recruiting and retaining high quality coworkers, helping them develop through coaching and assessment, improving operational effectiveness, and advancing data-based planning;
  4. Achieving results by identifying opportunities, challenging received assumptions, taking strategic risks, and advancing innovations in a decisive and strategic manner that is attuned to the priorities of the unit and university.
  5. Inclusive excellence by building community, advancing diversity and inclusion by improving climate, responding to bias, and soliciting/supporting diverse perspectives and experiences.

Nomination Process

Department Heads/Directors/Chairs may be nominated by a UA colleague. A nomination packet must be submitted with the following materials:

  • Letter of nomination signed by four UA faculty members, department head/directors, or staff members with a three-page summary of the person’s achievements in the unit, contributions to the University, and summary of how they exceed criteria for the award.
  • CV for the nominee.
  • One recommendation letter (maximum 3 pages) from a faculty member or members within the nominee’s unit who are not nominators or signatories of the nomination letter.
  • One page letter of support from the Dean.

Inclusion is one of the core values of the University of Arizona. At the center of Inclusive Excellence is the recognition and acceptance of the talents, world-views, perceptions, cultures and skills that faculty communities bring to the educational enterprise. The University of Arizona recognizes the power of an inclusive community and strongly encourages nominations of individuals with varied experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds. As a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), the University of Arizona also recognized the importance of contributions of the nominee to the HSI mission.

Submission of Materials

Materials are to be submitted online through Arizona Cultivate.

Review the nomination packet carefully before submitting to make sure that all of the required material is accurate and included. Packets that are incomplete may be delayed.

Selection Process

Submittals will be reviewed by the HeadsUp Steering Committee and advanced in ranked order to the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, who will make the final selection. Two awards may be made per year, although no Awards may be made when nominations do not fulfill the criteria. Unsuccessful nominees may be resubmitted. Award winners may not reapply.


The recipient(s) will be celebrated at a special award ceremony in 2024. Recipients will receive more information through email.

Due Date

Monday, December 4, 2023 at 5 p.m.

Awardees will be announced by April 2024.

For More Information

Please contact: Dr. Adrián Arroyo, +1 (520) 621-2121 or email arroyopa@arizona.edu