Featured Stories


Nomination process for annual student leadership awards underway

32nd annual Leadership Awards Gala scheduled for April 1


In an Ohio University tradition that dates back more than 30 years, nominations are being sought for this year’s student leadership awards.

The Division of Student Affairs developed OHIO’s annual leadership awards program in 1983 to highlight the outstanding work of students and student organizations at the University. Thirty-two years later, the program now includes nearly 15 awards and scholarships sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs and other planning units throughout the University that recognize and encourage student leadership.

“This awards program is the only campus-wide opportunity we have to recognize student leadership at Ohio University,” said Erin Morgenstern, assistant director for leadership at the University’s Career and Leadership Development Center (CLDC) who oversees the student leadership awards program. “There aren’t any other programs across campus where any student can be nominated and recognized for their leadership and the ways in which they contribute to Ohio University and the surrounding community.”

Anyone from within or outside the OHIO community may nominate a student or student organizations for the 14 awards and scholarships that will be given this year, and students may also apply for the awards themselves. Nominations and applications for most of the awards are due by Feb. 1.

According to Morgenstern, nearly 200 nominations were submitted for last year’s student leadership awards.

“The leadership awards program has become a tradition at Ohio University, and there’s a lot of history behind these awards, so there’s a legacy involved in being recognized as a student leader on campus,” she said.

Faculty and staff from throughout the University will review the nominations and applications and determine finalists for each award. Finalists will be invited to attend the 32nd annual Leadership Awards Gala in April where the award winners will be announced during an evening celebrating OHIO’s students and their outstanding demonstration of the University’s five core values – character, citizenship, civility, commitment and community.

Morgenstern noted a couple of changes to the student leadership award program this year.

In an effort to help OHIO students become more invested in their career development and engaged in their future planning, students who apply for this year’s student leadership awards must upload their resume to Bobcat CareerLink and nominators must encourage the students they are nominating to do the same. A resource offered by the CLDC, Bobcat CareerLink is an online database available to employers who are interested in hiring Ohio University students. All OHIO students have access to and are encouraged to use that database, which allows them to:

  • Store resumes, cover letters, transcripts, and other documents to simplify the process of applying for jobs
  • Access job postings for Ohio University students and alumni, including full-time, part-time, and internship positions
  • Participate in on-campus recruiting and interview with potential employers here on campus at the request of the employer
  • Access information about upcoming career fairs, information sessions and career development workshops and track participation in those events

“By asking students who apply or are nominated for the leadership awards to upload their resume to Bobcat CareerLink, we hope to get students more engaged in the career development process and in our office,” Morgenstern said. “It also helps to ensure that our students have a general resume that they can use to apply for jobs, other scholarships, or other programs at the University.”

Another change to this year’s student leadership awards is the addition of a theme for the program, which is “Inspire.”

“Our applications have changed in a significant way,” Morgenstern explained. “In the past, our applications have focused on the over-involved student, which isn’t really what a true leader is. A true leader is someone who inspires and encourages and motivates people as opposed to being involved in everything. These individuals are an inspiration to our campus, so instead of asking students to list all the things they are involved in on their award applications, we want them to tell us how they’ve inspired campus.”

The theme “Inspire” will also be carried over to the Leadership Awards Gala. Sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs in collaboration with the CLDC and Event Services, the Leadership Awards Gala will be held Wednesday, April 1, in the Baker University Center Ballroom with a reception beginning at 6 p.m. followed by the awards ceremony at 7 p.m.

“We’ll be using the theme ‘Inspire’ as a framework for the Leadership Awards Gala,” said Caitlin Barnhardt, associate director for Event Management who is organizing the awards ceremony. “That word ‘inspire’ will drive how we talk about student leadership and will highlight not only how students have inspired others but also how they have been inspired to take action or encourage change.”

Nominations and applications are being sought for the following student leadership awards:

  • Kerrigan Family Scholarship – Created by the Kerrigan family in 2012 to provide financial support to any student with a demonstrated financial need, the recipient of this scholarship must be involved in leadership activity within Ohio University’s main campus community and/or the Athens community.
  • Charles J. Ping International Student Leadership Award – This award, instituted in 2010 and presented by the Office of International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS), is designed to recognize outstanding leadership by an international student. The award is named after Ohio University President Emeritus Charles J. Ping in honor of his support for international education and exchange. For more information about the award and nomination/application materials, e-mail ISFS at isfs@ohio.edu.
  • Stonewall Leadership Award – This award, instituted in 2000, is designed to recognize outstanding student leadership that improves the lives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer communities on and off campus. The award is named in honor of the 1969 LGBT rights riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City that have come to signify the start of the modern LGBT Equality Movement.
  • Women's Issues Leadership Award – This award, presented by the Women’s Center, recognizes a student or student organization which has shown outstanding leadership and/or community involvement on women’s issues or has raised consciousness about those issues.
  • Blackburn/Spencer Scholarship and Achievement Awards – This scholarship and achievement awards were established by the Black Student Cultural Programming Board in 1979 in honor of Martha Jane Hunley Blackburn, the first African-American woman to graduate from Ohio University, and Donald A. Spencer, the first African American to serve as chairman of the Ohio University Board of Trustees.
  • Latino Heritage Achievement Awards – These awards were established to recognize outstanding students of Latino descent.
  • Francine Childs Diversity Leadership Award – In honor of Dr. Francine C. Childs, OHIO’s first tenured African-American professor and longtime stalwart for social justice and equality, this award represents the most prestigious diversity honor bestowed upon an OHIO student. Recipients will be individuals who promote the principles of social justice, leadership, cultural diversity and service to the OHIO and Athens community and/or region. For more information about the award, click here or contact the Office for Diversity and Inclusion at 740-593-2431.
  • Edwin L. Kennedy Leadership Award for Outstanding Community Service (Individual) – Named in honor of alumnus Edwin L. Kennedy, this award recognizes an individual for her or his lasting and self-less acts of leadership as servant to one’s community.
  • Edwin L. Kennedy Community Service Award for an Organization – Named in honor of alumnus Edwin L. Kennedy, this award recognizes an organization for its lasting and selfless acts of leadership as servant to one’s community.
  • Outstanding Programming Awards – Established in 1986, these awards recognize student organizations for conceiving, planning and implementing outstanding programs on the Ohio University campus.
  • Rudy Leadership Award – This award, instituted in 1986, is the result of the contribution of Joel S. and Marlene Rudy. The proceeds of their contribution are used to reward and recognize the exceptional leadership contributions, ability and potential of an undergraduate student.
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Leader (Doctoral Level) – This award will be presented to a doctoral graduate student for outstanding leadership in extracurricular activities and/or community service.
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Leader (Master’s Level) – This award will be given to a master’s graduate student for outstanding leadership in extracurricular activities and/or community service.
  • Outstanding Senior Leader Award – These awards will be presented to Ohio University seniors for outstanding leadership during their collegiate careers. One of the Outstanding Senior Leader Awards is designated as the John Newton Templeton Outstanding Senior Leader Award, in honor of the first African-American student to graduate from Ohio University in 1828. This award will be presented to a senior student who has made significant contributions to the life of African-American students on campus.

For more information about the student leadership awards, contact Erin Morgenstern at perduee@ohio.edu or 740-593-1396. For more information about the Leadership Awards Gala, contact Caitlin Barnhardt at murrayc@ohio.edu or 740-593-4004.