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Today, April 20, is your last chance to nominate someone deserving of the Beacons of Excellence award. Nominations close at 5 p.m.

Click here NOW to nominate someone who deserves to be honored with the Beacons of Excellence awards. Nominations close today, Monday, April 20 at 5 p.m.

By Annalisa Purser

Each year, the University of Utah recognizes people, programs and projects committed to creating a transformative undergraduate educational experience.
We sat down with Patrick Tripeny, associate dean of undergraduate studies and chair of the Beacons of Excellence Awards committee, to learn more about the program.

How did the Beacons of Excellence awards start?
The Beacons of Excellence Program was started by Martha Bradley, dean of the Office of Undergraduate Studies, and Barbara Snyder, associate vice president for Student Affairs. It began in the 2011-12 academic year and is designed to recognize people and programs that make an impact on our students and community.

Since you began reviewing nominations, what have you been surprised to learn about the university’s people, programs and projects?
The surprise every year is how many people and programs are making a huge impact on the lives of people in our community. The nominations often include a touching story about how this person or program changed the nominator’s life. I am also surprising by the variety of ways people are inspired—in the classroom, at a community-based event, within a clinic or through a personal mentor. I always walk away from the review meeting feeling great about what we are doing here at the University of Utah.

Who/what was recognized with a Beacons of Excellence award last year?
We have been averaging six awards per year, though the number is not written in stone. Last year’s winners included professors Jim Aguter, Kurt Albertine, and Sanja Mikovic. The programs recognized included the Asian Student Association, the Rehabilitation and Wellness Clinic and the Peak Health and Fitness program. Videos of their work can be found online.

How are the awards important in furthering the university’s mission to foster transformational experiences for students?
The award furthers the university’s mission by recognizing what we do well already. Once we recognize the great work done by our faculty, staff and students, we can determine what we need to do next.

How can I nominate a person, program or project for the award?
The nomination process is quite easy. Go to to submit a nomination. The process takes less than five minutes. You will be asked who you are nominating and why, as well as who you are. It is a simple but effective way of letting the review committee know how important this person or program has been to you.

Nominations are open to all students, faculty and staff and are due by Monday, April 20, at 5 p.m.


Annalisa Purser is a communication specialist at University Marketing and Communications. If you have an interesting story idea, email her at