Awards Programs

On this page: 
Outstanding Teacher Award 
Outstanding Graduate Research Award 
Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award 
Outstanding Staff Achievement Award 
Staff Spot Bonuses 

Outstanding Teacher Award 

The College Outstanding Teacher Award (COTA) program was instituted as a complement to the Distinguished Teaching Award and is administered by the Provost's Office and the individual colleges. The purpose of the award is to honor faculty members for their teaching accomplishments at the college level. The awards are given during the spring semester, and recipients are recognized at Undergraduate Commencement. For more information about COTA, please refer to the TEFD guidelines.

The Awards Committee solicits nominations from all CICS undergraduate and graduate students and faculty. The nominations can be emailed to awards@cics.umass.edu and should include a statement of why the faculty member is deserving of the award keeping in mind the following criteria: (1) teaching effectiveness and creativity, (2) impact on students, and (3) subject mastery and scholarship, and (4) contributions to the teaching mission. Nominations by students are mainly expected to comment on the first three criteria. For more elaboration on the four criteria, please refer to the TEFD guidelines.

The nominations are due by February 10th every year. 

The Awards Committee will determine the awardee based on the submitted nominations and other material it considers appropriate. The Awards Committee will include at least one undergraduate and one graduate student in its discussions to determine the awardee. The committee may also confer with the Personnel Committee in its determination.

A CICS faculty member will not be considered eligible to receive this award more than once in any five-year period. 

Outstanding Graduate Research Award 

The CICS Outstanding Graduate Research Award (COGRA) recognizes the outstanding research accomplishments of a graduate student in the College of Information and Computer Sciences.

All current CICS Ph.D. or M.S. students who have not previously received this award are eligible.

Any CICS graduate faculty member can nominate a graduate student for the award. The nomination must include the nominee's current CV and a brief statement (limited to two pages) on why the nominee deserves the award based on their research accomplishments as a CICS graduate student in the recent past and a list of up to three additional references in a position to comment on the nominee's work.

Nominations should be sent to awards@cics.umass.edu by February 17th.

The CICS Awards Committee will determine the awardee based on the submitted nominations. The committee may solicit additional feedback as necessary from the nominator or additional references listed in the nomination statement or the Graduate Program Committee. The committee may opt to not select any awardee or select multiple awardees in the same year. Nomination statements and letters should highlight intellectual merit criteria including but not limited to recognition by high-quality peer-reviewed venues or other science or technology forums and broader impacts to other researchers, industry practitioners, or society.

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

The CICS Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award recognizes excellence in work done by individuals assisting with course instruction in the College of Information and Computer Sciences. The award will be given during the spring semester at the Outstanding Achievement and Advocacy Awards Banquet and will include a cash prize.

Anyone who has been a full-time or part-time Teaching Assistant (TA), Teaching Associate (TO), or Grader for a course offered through CICS in the most recently completed academic year is eligible. 

Any CICS faculty member who has taught an eligible course or any UMass student enrolled in an eligible course can nominate a TA, TO, or Grader for that course for this award. A TA, TO, or Grader for an eligible course can also nominate a peer for that course. Self-nominations are not permitted. The nomination should include the course name or number and a thoughtful statement (no longer than two pages) of why the nominee's performance of their duties was outstanding. Nominations by faculty should include the number of hours of appointment and the expected duties of the nominee in assisting with the course. Nominations noting a history of excellence across more than one offering of the course or across different courses by the nominee are also welcome. Nominations noting how the nominee went above and beyond their assigned duties will carry particular weight but are not necessary.

The nomination should be sent to awards@cics.umass.edu by November 1 every year for the immediately preceding academic year.

The Graduate Program Committee will determine the awardee based on the submitted nominations. The committee may solicit additional information from other sources as deemed necessary to help with the evaluation. The committee typically expects to select two awardees per academic year.

Outstanding Staff Achievement Award

The CICS Outstanding Staff Achievement Award recognizes the contributions of an outstanding staff member or team in the College of Information and Computer Sciences. The award will be given during the spring semester at the CICS all staff meeting and will carry a cash prize. If a team is selected for the award, the prize will be split equally among the award recipients.

Any CICS staff member or staff team is eligible. CICS staff are defined as classified, professional, or non-unit employees who are not faculty, postdocs, graduate students, or temporary employees. An eligible 'team' consists of a group of staff who either collaborated closely on one or more specific projects or share similar general responsibilities. A CICS staff member is not eligible to receive this award more than once in five years, unless awarded as part of a team. A CICS staff member is not eligible if they have received, or have been scheduled to receive, a cash award (excluding spot bonuses) from any non-CICS university employee recognition program within the past year. 

Any CICS member (faculty, staff, students) can nominate a CICS staff member or CICS team for the award. Self-nominations are also permitted. The nomination should include a statement no longer than two pages on why the nominee deserves to receive the award and a list of up to three additional people in a position to comment on the nominee's work.

Nominations should be sent to awards@cics.umass.edu by December 1.

The CICS Awards Committee will determine the awardee based on the submitted nominations. The committee will include at least two appointed staff members, at least one of which will be a staff member who received the award the previous year, in their discussions to determine the awardee. The committee may solicit additional feedback from the nominator, listed references, or other sources as it deems appropriate. The evaluation criteria for this award include, but are not limited to, making an impact on CICS through one or more of these areas:

  • outstanding work on a sustained basis
  • outstanding work on a major project or initiative
  • creating a positive work environment while performing duties with integrity and dedication
  • fostering collaboration within the workplace
  • improvement of a current process or creation or implementation of a new process with a significant impact
  • growth in areas of responsibility

Individuals and members of teams have the right to decline their nomination. If declined, an alternate awardee may be chosen by the committee.

Staff Spot Bonuses

During the course of the year, a staff member may receive recognition from their manager, another manager, or a peer and in doing so, receive a gift card for a token amount of $25.  If you desire to recognize someone with a gift card, please submit a brief rationale to awards@cics.umass.edu indicating for what activity above and beyond their current responsibilities the person is being recognized. The awards committee along with the Chair will evaluate the nomination for approval. Approved spot bonus awards will be announced at regular faculty meetings.