Faculty Awards

The University of Memphis and the Office of the Provost are proud to offer the following awards. Click on each award to learn more about it and how to nominate someone or how to apply.

Alumni Association Distinguished Advising Award
Alumni Association Distinguished Research Award
Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award
Honorary Degrees

Award Details

 Distinguished Advising Award

The Alumni Association offers two Distinguished Advising Awards, one for faculty and one for professional advisors. The Award will be given at the Spring Faculty Convocation. The Award will be accompanied by a stipend equal to that given for the University's Distinguished Teaching Award. The recommendation is that one faculty and one professional advisor award be given annually. The Selection Committee will be appointed by the Provost and will consist of two faculty, two professional staff, two administrators, the Director of Academic Advising, and a student representative.

How to Apply

Nominations will be solicited through various media (i.e. posters, the Daily Helmsman, email, etc.) during the Fall semester.  Both faculty and professional advisors must receive nominations from faculty/administrators and students/former students or alumni/alumnae.  Nominees must have completed at least five years of service at the University of Memphis and are at least in their sixth year of service at the time of receiving the award.  Faculty may only receive the award once.  Professional advisors may receive the award twice. For eligibility the second time, at least three complete years must have passed since the first Award was received (i.e. if the nominee first received the Award in Spring 2010, he or she would not be eligible for a second Award until Spring 2014).

Once a pool of qualified nominees has been established, candidates will be asked to provide supporting letters and a dossier.  The letters are solicited confidential letters with a minimum of one from each of the following groups: 1. Present and former advisees. 2. Faculty/professional staff. 3. Supervisors/administrators.  The dossier should support the nomination by showing that the nominee has met appropriate criteria from the Advising Award Criteria list.

The Advising Award Criteria List includes:

  • Undergraduate Student Contact
    • frequency of contact with undergraduate advisees
    • availability to advisees
    • meeting advisees in a variety of settings
  • External Evaluation
    • advisee evaluations (summary data)
    • perception by colleague of candidate's advising skills
    • institutional recognition of candidate for advising
    • evidence of student success rate
  • Interpersonal Skills
    • caring attitude toward advisees
    • intrusive behavior which builds strong relationships with advisees
  • Advising Skills
    • appropriate referral activity
    • use of appropriate information sources
    • monitoring of student progress
    • mastery of institutional regulations, policies, and procedures
    • ability to engage in developmental advising
  • Evidence of Professional Development and Service in Advising
    • attendance at advisor development programs
    • participation in advisor development programs
    • support of advisor development programs
    • perception of candidate as an advising resource

Distinguished Research and Creative Activity Award

The Alumni Association may make up to five awards annually to faculty who have brought honor and recognition to the University through their research or creative activities. The categories include:

  • Distinguished Achievement in the Creative Arts
  • Distinguished Research in the Humanities
  • Distinguished Research in the Social Sciences
  • Distinguished Research in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics
  • Distinguished Research in Engaged Scholarship

How to Apply

Candidates must have been employed full-time by the University of Memphis for at least five academic years prior to the semester of their application or nomination. They may apply for the award or be nominated by any full-time faculty or staff member. Former award winners may not be re-nominated within seven years of the first awards and may not receive the award more than twice. Those wishing to be considered must submit a resume with a complete list of publications, a narrative summary of research aims and achievements, and at least three external letters from distinguished referees. A $2,000 honorarium and a plaque are presented to each recipient at the annual Faculty Convocation. Further information is available from the Vice President for Research.

Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award

To donate to the Sparks Award, click here.

The Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award is the highest distinction given to a faculty member by the University. The award is given annually to one faculty member who has made outstanding and sustained contributions to scholarly-creative activity, teaching, and service, bringing honor and recognition to the University. The award is given by the University of Memphis Board of Visitors and includes a $20,000 cash prize and a commemorative crystal. A University committee composed of nine faculty members will screen nominations and identify three finalists. The recipient will then be chosen from among these finalists by a selection committee composed of three members of the Board of Visitors. The award will be presented to the recipient at the Spring Faculty Convocation. Previous recipients include:

2017-18 Frank Andrasik, Distinguished Professor and Chair, Psychology
2016-17 Abby Parrill-Baker, Professor, Chemistry / Associate Dean, Arts & Sciences
2015-16 Roy Van Arsdale, Professor, Earth Sciences
2014-15 Albert Okunade, Professor, Economics
2013-14 Kenneth Ward, Professor, Public Health
2012-13 Gladius Lewis, Professor, Mechanical Engineering
2011-12 Dipankar Dasgupta, Professor, Computer Science
2010-11 Thomas K. Fagan, Professor, Psychology
2009-10 Erno Lindner, Professor, Biomedical Engineering
2008-09 Robyn Cox, Professor, Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology
2007-08 Ralph Albanese, Chair, Foreign Languages & Literatures
2006-07 David Evans, Professor, Music
2005-06 Jerome A. Goldstein, Professor, Mathematical Sciences
2004-05 David L. Appleby, Professor, Communication
2003-04 Cyril F. Chang, Professor, Economics
2002-03 Linda A. Bennett, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, A&S
2001-02 Robert A. Neimeyer, Professor, Psychology
2000-01 Richard H. Schelp, Professor, Mathematical Sciences
1999-00 Lily Afshar, Associate Professor, Music
1998-99 Arthur C. Graesser, Professor, Psychology
1997-98 Steven J. Ross, Professor, Communication
1996-97 Stanley P. Franklin, Professor, Mathematical Sciences
1995-96 Shelley White-Means, Professor, Economics
1994-95 William R. Shadish, Professor, Psychology
1993-94 Ralph J. Faudree, Professor, Mathematics
1992-93 Steven M. Ross, Professor, Counseling, Educational Psychology, & Research

How to Apply

Faculty eligible for the award must be active and continuously employed by the University for at least five years. The award can only be given once to an individual. Chairs of Excellence are not eligible. A letter of nomination may be submitted by anyone familiar with the candidate's credentials. A nomination remains active for five years unless withdrawn by the nominee.

How to Nominate

Nominations are accepted only by email. Please send nominations to hjohnson@memphis.edu with "Sparks Eminent Faculty Award" in the subject line.

Honorary Degrees

The University of Memphis has the authority to award up to two honorary degrees each year to distinguished individuals who merit special recognition for extraordinary achievements that have improved the community they serve, contributed to society, as well as benefited the University of Memphis. Previous recipients include:

2015 Gary Shorb & Scott Morris
2014 Honey Scheidt and R. Brad Martin
2013 Jim Ayers
2012 Larry Papasan
2011 Bert Bornblum
2010 Maxine Smith
2009 Robert Fogelman
2008 Fred Smith
2007 Rudi E. Scheidt
2006 Harry W. Feinstone

How to Nominate

You are invited to nominate a person for his or her outstanding performance and to whom the University of Memphis can show its appreciation. The guidelines for awarding honorary degrees are located at AA3023 - Awarding the Honorary Degree. In order to nominate a person please review the policy above and include the following:

A letter of nomination, including:

  • a summary of the distinguished contributions made by the nominee whose career reflects sustained, exceptional achievement in some field of scholarship, public service, or in an artistic, literary, governmental, financial, professional, research, leadership, cultural affairs, or other endeavor;
  • the nominator's relationship with the candidate, and any perceived potential conflicts of interest;
  • an indication of the extent to which the nominee has been associated with the University of Memphis.
  • Any additional pertinent information.

After review of the nominees, the Honorary Degree Committee will solicit additional supporting materials including the nominee's vita and three letters of recommendation from within or outside of the university explaining why the candidate is worthy of further consideration for the award of an honorary degree from the University of Memphis.

Honorary Degree nominations are only accepted by email.Please send nominations to hjohnson@memphis.edu with "Honorary Degree" in the subject line.