Nomination Process-Celebration of Education - Carnegie Mellon University

Award Guidelines:
The Mark Gelfand Award for Educational Outreach


The Gelfand Award will be given annually to a member of the university community who has combined sustained, effective community service with academic coursework and a deliberate process of student reflection to enhance the learning experience, teach social responsibility, and improve some aspect of life in the community, with special consideration given to individuals who focus on science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) educational outreach to younger populations.

Examples of activities to be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing or strengthening courses or other programs that require Carnegie Mellon students to share expertise with the community while they develop their own content and skill knowledge in a subject area
  • Maintaining a consistent focus on relationships with pre-college populations through teacher professional development programs or direct programming for student populations to improve teaching and learning at the K-12 level.
  • Creating a program or other support system that enables service learning courses to expand or achieve a more effective impact in the community


All full-time Carnegie Mellon University faculty and staff members who have demonstrated substantial devotion to sharing expertise that impacts K-12 populations and/ or encourages undergraduate and/or graduate students to participate in educational outreach activities. No one person may win the award more than once or simultaneously with the Doherty, Ryan, Academic Advising or Barbara Lazarus Award.


The provost is responsible for the administration of the nomination and selection process, including calling for proposals and convening the committee.

The Gelfand Award Committee

The Gelfand Award selection committee consists of:

  • the most recent recipients of the Gelfand Award, as available
  • faculty and staff members who have been involved with educational outreach initiatives
  • undergraduate and graduate students
  • the Gelfand Committee chairperson (the director of the Leonard Gelfand Center for Service Learning & Outreach, a non-voting member). If this person is unavailable, the provost will appoint a person to act in the director’s stead.

The Gelfand Award selection committee adopts its own rules of procedure.


Nominations consist of two phases and may be made by any group of at least three persons, each of whom is either:

  • a current or retired faculty or staff member
  • a current or former full-time undergraduate or graduate student.

Phase One of the Nomination:

Nominations consist of a letter [maximum two single-spaced pages] that explains why the individual is worthy of the award. Because the decision to advance the nomination to the second phase of the nomination process is based on this letter alone, it should be descriptive, convincing, and specifically focused on the purpose of the award (stated at the beginning of these guidelines). The letter must be submitted on or before the first Monday in November, to be considered for that academic year.

The committee will select at least two and at most five persons each year to be considered for phase two of the nomination process.

Phase Two of Nomination:

The nominators of each person selected are then responsible, together with the relevant department head (or his or her designee) for preparing the full case for that nomination, following the guidelines. In the case of a department head nominee, the relevant dean should be included in preparation of the full package.

To Nominators Assembling Gelfand Award Packages:

The nomination packet must include artifacts and information that document the impact of the candidate’s work on Carnegie Mellon students and the community partner(s) who are the beneficiaries of the work. Suggested items include, but are not limited to:

  • a nomination letter that provides descriptions of the candidate’s work to design and implement a program or programs that provide opportunities for university students, faculty and staff to share expertise in the community, combined with activities that help to develop an understanding of responsibility to society
  • information about classroom techniques, assignments, projects, course structure that deliberately lead to impact in the community
  • a statement from the candidate that explains the rationale for the course or program in terms of impact on students and the community (possibly from a project web page, course syllabus, or other similar document to keep the nomination confidential)
  • student letters of support to document the impact of the program or course on their understanding of ‘social responsibility’ and the impact that one person can have on the community
  • letters from alumni who attest to and describe the long-term impact that program(s) or course(s) conducted by the candidate have had on the commitment to service or community work
  • letters from colleagues who have been involved with the work of the nominee or who have heard of the work through interaction with students or members of the community who have benefited from the work of the nominee
  • letters and other documents from the community partner(s) who have worked with the candidate and/or Carnegie Mellon students through the program.  The letter should explain the nature of the collaboration and the impact of the program on the organization’s capacity to serve the community, or on the knowledge / skill level or self-confidence of individuals who benefited from the program.
  • brief C.V. (2-4 pages).

PLEASE NOTE that the maximum number of letters allowed is 30.

Four CDs, DVDs or USB sticks, each containing a single PDF of the complete nomination packet, must be submitted on or before the first Monday in February to the Leonard Gelfand Center for Service Learning and Educational Outreach, Wean Hall 4612. Questions can be directed to Judy Hallinen, assistant vice president for educational outreach, director of the Gelfand Center, and co-chair of the selection committee.


The committee will choose one person to be recommended to the provost as the year's recipient of the Gelfand Award. Upon the provost's approval, the award recipient will be notified in late February, and the award presented at a public ceremony open to the entire university community in late spring.