AAUA Official Logo   Facebook

AAUA Awards

The American Association of University Administrators (AAUA) seeks nominations of candidates for several of its annual higher education leadership recognition awards. (NOTE: Membership in AAUA is not a criterion for eligibility nor is it a consideration in awardee selection.)

The following information provides descriptions of awards, criteria, and expectations of both nominator and recipients.


BLACKBURN AWARD AND EXEMPLARY MODELS AWARDS – Recognize outstanding examples of college/university leadership activities that demonstrate creative solutions to common problems in higher education. These include programs or methods that exemplify successful efforts to meet internal or external challenges and demands, including, but not limited to, those posed by one or more of a wide variety of influencing sources such as legislative bodies or public policy bureaucracies, accreditation agencies, institution-based strategic aspirations, and/or external demands for documentable evidence of the effectiveness and value of higher education. Awards can be given for work at any or all institutional levels, about any or all institutional functions, and at any public or private two- or four- year college(s) or university(ies). (Occasionally AAUA gives multiple Exemplary Models awards in a single year with the Blackburn Award going to the one judged the best of all submissions. The Blackburn Award is considered AAUA's highest institutional/programmatic recognition.)

KHALADJAN INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR INNOVATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION – Recognizes innovation and achievement in higher education worldwide, and is given for work that is both innovative and has wide potential for application or impact on the international dimensions of post-secondary education. It is named for the founder and former president of the Moscow External University of the Humanities, Nikolai N. Khaladjan. Any higher education institution or unit within a higher education institution is eligible to compete for this award. The award sponsors are especially interested in recognizing: (1) innovative teaching methods; (2) methods which widen access to education; (3) extension of or more efficient use of teaching resources; (4) wide use of or development of learning technology; and (5) efforts that accelerate or deepen student learning.

TOSNEY AWARD FOR CAREER SERVICE IN HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERSHIP – Recognizes outstanding, long-term experience as an administrator in the field of higher education; it is most often awarded as a career capstone recognition. Eligibility requires that the nominee: (1) be an active (or recently retired), full-time professional administrator, (2) have a minimum of five years of administrative experience, and (3) have demonstrated significant external professional activities; usually, recipients have an established national profile in higher education leadership. (The Tosney Award is considered AAUA's highest individual recognition.)

MCINNESS/RYAN AWARD FOR MID-CAREER HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERSHIP – Is made to an individual with 5 - 15 years of higher education administrative service who has demonstrated professional accomplishment significantly beyond the norm and who has—by virtue of his/her achievements and behaviors—demonstrated a personal commitment to ethical and principled leadership practice.

MacVITTIE EMERGING LEADER AWARD – Is made to an individual who is currently engaged in a higher education administrative position below the level of vice president and who has completed no more than five years of service at the current level of appointment and who, by virtue of demonstrated professional accomplishment, is thought to have outstanding potential for higher education leadership.

KING AWARD FOR COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY TRUSTEE LEADERSHIP – Is given to a college or university board member whose service exemplifies commitment to higher education and who demonstrates the highest ethical standards in providing leadership from the trustee-level; currently serving or recently retired board members are eligible.

Dissertation Awards – (1) DONALD A. GATZKE OUTSTANDING DISSERTATION AWARD; and (2) LEO AND MARGARET GOODMAN-MALAMUTH OUTSTANDING DISSERTATION AWARD. These two awards are made to authors of outstanding doctoral dissertations in the field of higher education or higher education administration. Criteria for selection are: (1) the importance and relevance of the topic to the broad field of higher education administration; (2) evidence of the development of a theoretical framework which guided the research; (3) the appropriateness of the research method and analysis; (4) the overall quality of writing; (5) the potential for publication and/or other dissemination of research results; and (6) the degree to which the results provide useful information for practitioners in the professional field of higher education.

Other Awards: The AAUA makes annual awards for the outstanding article in The Journal for Higher Education Management (the Neuner Award) and for the best presentation at the annual Leadership Seminar (the Watson Award). The awards committee makes these awards directly, so no nominations are solicited for them.


2019 awards will be presented at the AAUA annual awards luncheon, June 7, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan. Unless there are extraordinary reasons prohibiting it, award recipients are required to attend the awards luncheon.

The annual awards luncheon is the concluding activity of the association's annual Leadership Seminar. (Information about the seminar is available on the association's website: www.aaua.org.) All awards recipients are eligible to participate in the seminar; they are not required to pay the seminar registration fee. The following awards carry specific additional responsibilities which recipients are expected to honor:

BLACKBURN AWARD; EXEMPLARY MODELS AWARDS; KHALADJAN INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR INNOVATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION; DONALD A. GATZKE OUTSTANDING DISSERTATION AWARD; and LEO AND MARGARET GOODMAN-MALAMUTH OUTSTANDING DISSERTATION AWARD – Recipients are expected to attend and participate in the leadership seminar (payment of the registration fee is not required). Recipients will be scheduled to make a short presentation describing the object of recognition as part of the seminar.

TOSNEY AWARD FOR CAREER SERVICE IN HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERSHIP; MCINNESS/RYAN AWARD FOR MID-CAREER HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERSHIP; MACVITTIE EMERGING LEADER AWARD – Recipients are expected to attend and participate in the leadership seminar (payment of the registration fee is not required).


Although nominations for awards are solicited annually, awards are made only when the selection committee believes there is a sufficiently qualified candidate pool.

Nominations may be made on behalf of another person, program, or institution; or they may be submitted as self-nominations. (There is no penalty for submitting a self-nomination and, in fact, several past awards have been made to highly qualified recipients who were self-nominees.) Nominators are required to have the permission of the nominee; it is anticipated that nominators will communicate to nominees the expectations that accompany the award presentation (see details above for general and specific expectations). Membership in AAUA is not a criterion for eligibility nor is it a consideration in awardee selection.

NOMINATION PROCESS: Nominations (including self-nominations) should be sent directly to the awards committee chair, Jerome Neuner at NEUNER@CANISIUS.EDU as attachments to emails.

  • For Awards to Individuals (TOSNEY, McINNIS/RYAN, MACVITTIE, and KING): The submission should indicate the award for which the individual is nominated; and each should include a letter of nomination that refers to the description and/or selection criteria as enumerated above and a CV of the nominated individual, all not to exceed a maximum of seven pages, single spaced. Any testimonials are counted in this total. Each nomination must include an assurance that the nominee has given permission for the nomination and that the nominee understands the expectations for recipients of the particular award.

  • For Awards to Projects/Programs (BLACKBURN, EXEMPLARY MODELS, KHALADJAN): Refer to the criteria above and summarize how the project or activity fulfills the criteria. Great importance is given to qualitative or quantitative evidence of success for the activity. References or testimonials are allowed. The full submission must not exceed seven pages single spaced.

  • For Dissertation Awards: At a minimum include a nominating letter (no more than three pages) addressing the criteria. Include substantial sections of the dissertation. Note, some nominees include the entire text or a link where the text can be found. This is acceptable. The awards committee will normally read sections such as the problem(s), method(s), and conclusion(s).

DEADLINE DATE: Only nominations received by January 15, 2019 will be assured of consideration.


AAUA was established in 1970 as a non-profit organization to represent the professional development and leadership interests of higher education administrators.

An organization whose membership is as diverse as American higher education as a whole, AAUA membership includes presidents, deans, directors, department chairpersons, and individuals working in a variety of other administrative positions in two- and four-year, public and private (non-profit and for-profit) institutions. We value the collaborative strength of professional development and leadership across all administrative roles and between/among personnel at all institutional types.

The mission of the American Association of University Administrators is to develop and advance superior standards for the profession of higher education administration. Through its policy statements, programs, and services the Association emphasizes the responsibility of administrators, at all levels, to demonstrate moral and ethical leadership in the exercise of all their duties.

To achieve these ends the Association provides, through programs and services, opportunities for the professional development of its members, whether they be employed by colleges, universities, specialized institutions, or professional associations.

The association works actively to: (1) Promote the professional development of individuals engaged in the administration of higher education; (2) Establish ethical and professional standards for administrators and institutions of higher education; and (3) Cultivate the mutuality of interests of those engaged in or concerned with the administration of higher education. While membership in AAUA is individually focused, the association does provide for institutionally-supported memberships, with discounted rates to academic institutions that sponsor five or more members.


A complete list of previous award recipients can be found on the association website here. Awards-related questions or requests for further awards-related information should be directed to the awards committee chair, Jerome Neuner (NEUNER@CANISIUS.EDU). Inquiries of a more general nature may be directed to the association's president and chief executive officer, Dan King at DKING@AAUA.ORG or 814-460-6498.

All rights reserved 2018 | Design by SEED Media Services, a division of SEED Group, Inc.