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U Make a Difference Awards

Submitted by cschasny on Tue, 05/05/2015 - 3:57pm

The 'U Make a Difference' award program recognizes individuals and teams who exemplify excellence and the ability to reach above and beyond the expected to "Make a Difference" in our university community. 

The awards acknowledge that outstanding contributions to the university's vision can take many different forms and they provide all members of the university community the opportunity to formally recognize each other's efforts and contributions throughout the year. These awards are an important aspect of the university's culture of recognition.

'U Make a Difference' award is an honour for members of our university community who, through their performance, commitment and service make the university a great place to learn and work.   

The University of Calgary's Eyes High vision inspires our campus community.

“At the University of Calgary, we believe that with the right circumstance and ample opportunity, anyone can be a leader. We proudly encourage a culture where individuals can live up to their potential, strive for excellence and support the growth of others. The recipients’ leadership skills and readiness to go above and beyond help propel the University of Calgary towards our ambitious Eyes High goals.”    

 ~ Dr. Elizabeth Cannon

Submitted by cschasny on Fri, 05/08/2015 - 10:55am


The U Make a Difference award recognizes academic staff, AUPE staff, management and professional staff (MaPS), post doctoral scholars and graduate students for outstanding individual or team achievements and activities. There are no restrictions on eligibility in relation to the type of work performed, or in relation to full or part-time status.

  • Team nominations of  up to 10 individuals are eligible. 
  • Executive and Senior Leadership Team members are exempt from this award.
  • Multiple awards are granted each year.
  • The U Make a Difference award may not be given to the same individual more than once unless the new nomination is based on noticeably different contributions


Criteria Overview

The U Make a Difference awards recognize 'excellence' in one of three key areas: innovation and curiosity, collaboration and communication, and a positive work environment and community.

For this award 'excellence' is defined as demonstrating outstanding success in job/professional responsibilities, projects or research.

Examples include:

  • Demonstrating exceptional initiative, perseverance, accountability or commitment in meeting or exceeding client (including other staff or students) needs, project deliverables, or goals.

  • Pursuing excellence through actions of integrity and perseverance.

  • Continuously striving to surpass personal expectations; actively seeking opportunities for personal learning, character building and growth; taking responsibility for own performance.

Behavioral characteristics associated with each of the criteria guide the selection of the award recipients. These descriptions (in the next three sections) provide the necessary context to a nominator on how a nominee may demonstrate distinction or excellence.

Innovation and Curiosity

Generating and driving new ideas, resources and processes or seeking to continuously improve beyond their normal responsibilities to benefit the university or larger community.

Examples include:

  • Applying original thinking in approach to job responsibilities or projects and research; generating or improving ideas, devices, processes, services, etc.

  • Engaging in or fostering an environment of curiosity and creativity; contributing to or facilitating problem solving, bringing forth innovative ideas and creative solutions.

  • Proactively seeking opportunities to learn about new technologies, tools or systems to enhance work methods, processes and approaches.

  • Taking initiative to enhance current procedures, policies, systems or structures to be more efficient and effective, save time or money, or improve the experience of end users.

Collaboration and Communication

Actively supporting a culture of cooperative, respectful and open communication within the university and community at large.

Examples include:

  • Building and maintaining exemplary collaborative relationships both within and potentially outside of the faculty, department or work unit.

  • Encouraging or leading others to work together to achieve common goals; openly shares experiences, ideas, innovations, etc., as well as failures, so that others may benefit; giving credit and recognition to others who have contributed towards team goals.

  • Demonstrating respect in our workplace in the areas of human rights, personal dignity and health and safety.

  • Seeking and listening to different points of view and respects differing opinions when developing solutions; separates own interests from the larger university interest to generate the best solution.

Positive Work Environment and Community

Contributing to the development of a positive and engaged community.

Examples include:

  • Actively contributing to and promoting a positive work environment, including recognizing others, role modeling and mentoring positive behaviours, promoting health and well-being, etc.

  • Promoting and supporting a healthy and productive work environment; leveraging of social, cultural, sports and recreational spaces, services and programs available throughout the university and the Calgary community.

  • Demonstrating exemplary community service and volunteerism.

When writing a nomination letter, please take the above information into account and provide examples which clearly illustrate how the nominee exemplifies the award criteria.

Please view these examples of an individual nomination and nomination letter.

Submitted by cschasny on Fri, 05/08/2015 - 11:06am


Nomination Process

Nomination packages will be accepted from January 30 - March 10, 2017. Nominators do not have to work directly with the nominee. Managers can nominate their staff, and employees can nominate their managers or peers. Students may also nominate employees.

The completed nomination package should include:

  1. A completed (Individual) nomination form or (Team) nomination form outlining the nominee(s), the award criteria on which the application is based upon, and information about the primary nominator and all supporting nominators.

  2. At least two nomination letters from a primary and supporting nominator(s), or

  3. One nomination letter completed by two more individuals. Effectively, supporting nominators can either write their own nomination letter, or co-write with the primary nominator or other supporting nominators. A well-crafted, co-written nomination will in no way disadvantage a nominee.

It is recommended that applications focus on one criteria, please refer to the Award Criteria section above. Those applications requesting consideration under multiple criteria will be accepted; however, will be scored independently. Applicants are only eligible for one award.

Please note: A maximum of five nomination letters from faculty, staff and students will be accepted per application.

It is preferable that the packages are coordinated and submitted by the primary nominator. Completed nomination packages should be submitted to with the subject "2017 U Make a Difference Nomination – insert name of nominee"

Nomination Letters

The nomination letter should clearly outline how the individual or team meets or exceeds the award criteria. Include examples to demonstrate how individual or team performance exceeds usual expectations or how the nominee(s) contributed, in an extraordinary way, to the university and larger community.

Nomination Forms

To nominate a colleague or team who has gone above and beyond, submit one nomination form (filled out by one primary Nominator and at least one supporting Nominator) recommending the same individual or team.

Nomination Forms

Complete the required nomination form by March 10th and submit by email to:


Administrative processes surrounding communication, nomination and selection processes will be coordinated through the Total Rewards Department of Human Resources. Adjudication of the nominations will be completed by a committee chaired by the Director, Total Rewards (or delegate) and consisting of, at minimum, one member of each of the following staff groups: faculty, AUPE staff, and MaPS. The committee will be guided in its adjudication by assessment rubrics based on the criteria for the awards.


Previous U Make a Difference Recipients:

For more information, please see Frequently Asked Questions.