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University Dissertation Awards

Graduate Student Handbook

There are two university-related dissertation awards that are awarded annually, the Elizabeth V. Stout Dissertation Award and the Council of Graduate Schools/ University Microfilms International Distinguished Dissertation Award.  Each award is discussed below, including all relevant information on which dissertations are eligible, how they are nominated and how recipients are selected.  While this discussion incorporates all university requirements and processes, it focuses specifically on how dissertations completed in academic programs in the College of Education may be nominated and selected for these awards.

Elizabeth V. Stout Dissertation Award

One Stout Dissertation Award may be awarded in each of the four colleges each year to recognize significant scholarly achievement in a dissertation project.  Stout Dissertation Awards are university-level awards, selected by the colleges.  Recipients receive an honorarium, a citation, and recognition at the doctoral hooding ceremony.

Eligibility: In order to be eligible, a dissertation must be completed after the last day of classes of the previous year and before the last day of classes of the current year.  For example, for consideration for the 2013 Stout Award, a dissertation must have been completed after April 27, 2012 (last day of classes, spring 2012) and before April 27, 2013 (last day of classes, spring 2013).  If all committee-required revisions have not been completed and approved and all necessary graduation paperwork submitted prior to the last day of spring classes, a dissertation is not eligible.

Nomination Process: In January of each year, all COE program directors are notified by email that nominations for the Stout Award for the college will be due no later than the last day of classes in the spring semester.

Each of the six academic programs in the COE may nominate one dissertation for the award.  If, in any given year, a program does not have an eligible dissertation or feels no completed dissertation is worthy of consideration that year, that program may decline to submit a nomination and will inform the associate dean that they will not be submitting a nomination.

COE academic programs may develop their own procedures for selecting this single nominee but they must ensure that all eligible dissertations receive due consideration at the program level.

Prior to nomination, each program must confirm that the author of the dissertation to be nominated (the “nominee”) is willing to have his/her dissertation nominated and agrees to prepare the required nomination packet (see next section).

In cases of interdisciplinary doctoral dissertations, the relevant COE academic program(s) should work with all academic programs involved to promote the nomination of a worthy dissertation, whether the involved academic programs are all in the COE or are located in different colleges.  When more than one college is involved, the nomination must come from college in which the author of the dissertation is enrolled.

Nomination Packet: The nominee prepares a narrative synopsis of the dissertation, not to exceed 10 pages, double–spaced using 10– or 12–point type with at least 1” margins on all four sides.

Appendices that contain non–textual material (for example, charts, tables, maps, illustrations, and the like) may be attached after the synopsis.  Each item must be numbered and include the name of the nominee.

The nomination packet must include three letters of reference that evaluate the scholarly significance and quality of the dissertation.  One of these three letters must be from the nominee’s dissertation supervisor, one letter must be from another member of the nominee’s dissertation committee, and the final letter may be from any other person the nominee’s chooses.

Lastly, a copy of the nominee’s vita must be provided at the same time as the nomination packet.

Submission Process: At or before 5:00 pm on the last day of classes in the spring, the program director forwards the nomination packet to the COE associate dean with a cover letter, addressed to the selection committee, in which the program director endorses the nomination on behalf of the COE academic program.  The full nomination packet, which now includes this cover letter, should be submitted electronically as a PDF.

As noted above, if a COE academic program does not choose to submit a nomination, its program director should notify the associate dean of this fact no later than 5:00 pm on the last day of spring classes.

Only complete nomination packets submitted by the deadline will be considered.

Selection Process: All nominations are considered by an award selection committee consisting of four members.  Three of these members are voting members chosen in rotation to assure equal representation across academic programs over a six-year cycle.  The fourth member is the COE associate dean who serves as chair, coordinating committee logistics and facilitating its deliberations, but who is not a voting member.

The committee chair distributes the PDF nomination packets to the committee electronically and provides a copy of the evaluation instrument.  This instrument evaluates the nomination packet on five criteria:

  1. Potential impact of dissertation study on field (including documentation in recommendation letters) 
  2. Quality of research methodology employed
  3. Quality of abstract: Completeness
  4. Quality of abstract: Logic
  5. Quality of abstract: Clarity and Expression.  

Each committee members is asked to use the evaluation instrument to rank the nominations before the selection committee meets.

The chair schedules a meeting to discuss these ranking and to come to consensus on a single college nomination for the Stout Dissertation Award to submit to the COE dean at least two weeks prior to the May commencement date.  The COE dean endorses the committee’s selection and forwards to the Provost’s Office the name of the person selected to receive the Stout Dissertation Award for the COE.  The dean then sends congratulatory emails to the recipient, as well as nominees who were not selected, and the dean publicly announces which individual will receive the award.

The Provost’s Office administers the Stout Awards, as selected by the four colleges.

Council of Graduate Schools/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Awards 

Each year the university nominates outstanding dissertations for consideration for the Council of Graduate Schools/University Microfilms International Distinguished Dissertation Awards (CGS/UMI awards) in an appropriate discipline, based on the CGS schedule for recognition in specific discipline areas.  CGS follows a two–year cycle in four discipline areas, recognizing two discipline areas per year. 

In odd–numbered years, one award is presented in Humanities and Fine Arts (including history and literature), and one award is presented in the Biological and Life Sciences.  In even–numbered years, one award is presented in the Social Sciences (including Education), and one award is presented in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering. 

Eligibility: In order to be eligible for the CGS/UMI award, a dissertation must be associated with a doctoral degree granted in the 20–month period preceding the last day of classes in the spring semester.  For example, for consideration for the 2014 CGS Award, the doctoral degree would have to have been awarded after May 2012 or be scheduled to be awarded at commencement in May 2014.  This includes dissertations successfully defended with degrees conferred in fall 2012, spring 2013, fall 2013 and spring 2014.  If all aspects of a doctoral degree have not been completed prior to the last day of spring classes and all necessary graduation paperwork submitted, a dissertation is not eligible.

Nomination Process: In January of even-numbered years, the email call for program nominations for the Stout Award also notes that nominations for the CGS/UMI award are due in the same timeframe (no later than the last day of classes in the spring semester).

Each of the six academic programs in the COE may choose to nominate the same person the program nominates for the Stout Award, or that program may choose to nominate a second single dissertation for the CGS/UMI award.  The major reasons for a program’s choosing to nominate a dissertation other than the one they choose to nominate for the Stout Award would likely be that the CGS/UMI award’s broader eligibility allows a program to nominate a dissertation that either (1) would be ineligible for the present year’s Stout Award or (2) was stronger than the program’s nominee for that Stout Award.

If, in any given year, a program does not have an eligible dissertation or feels no completed dissertation is worthy of being considered for selection as the university’s one CGS/UMI award nominee that year, a program may decline to submit a CGS/UMI award nomination and will inform the associate dean that they will not be submitting a nomination.

COE academic programs may develop their own procedures for selecting their single CGS/UMI award nominee but they must ensure that all eligible dissertations receive due consideration at the program level.

As noted earlier, prior to nomination, each program must confirm that the nominee is willing to have his/her dissertation nominated and agrees to prepare the required nomination packet (see next section).

In cases of interdisciplinary doctoral dissertations, the relevant COE academic program(s) should work with all academic programs involved to promote the nomination of a worthy dissertation, whether the involved academic programs are all in the COE or are located in different colleges.  When more than one college is involved, the nomination must come from college in which the nominee is enrolled.

Nomination Packet: The nomination packet is identical to the packet described under the Stout Dissertation Award.  That is,

  • The nominee prepares a narrative synopsis of the dissertation, not to exceed 10 pages, double–spaced using 10– or 12–point type with at least 1” margins on all four sides.
  • Appendices that contain non–textual material (for example, charts, tables, maps, illustrations, and the like) may be attached after the synopsis.  Each item must be numbered and include the name of the nominee.
  • The nomination packet must include three letters of reference that evaluate the scholarly significance and quality of the dissertation.  One of these three letters must be from the nominee’s dissertation supervisor, one letter must be from another member of the nominee’s dissertation committee, and the final letter may be from any other person the nominee’s chooses.
  • A copy of the nominee’s vita must be provided at the same time as the nomination packet.

Submission Process: At or before 5:00 pm on the last day of classes in the spring, the program director forwards the nomination packet to the COE associate dean with a cover letter, addressed to the selection committee, in which the program director endorses the nomination on behalf of the COE academic program.  The full nomination packet, which now includes this cover letter, should be submitted electronically as a PDF.

If a COE academic program is submitting separate nominations for the CGS/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award and the Stout Dissertation Award, those packets must be self-contained PDFs, including separate cover letters.  They must not be a single combined PDF file with a single cover letter.

As noted above, if a COE academic program does not choose to submit a nomination for the CGS/UMI award, its program director should notify the associate dean of this fact no later than 5:00 pm on the last day of spring classes.

Only complete nomination packets submitted by the deadline will be considered.

Selection Process: In even-numbered years, the same four-person selection committee (described above under the Stout Dissertation Award) selects the college’s single nominee for the CGS Dissertation Award. 

If academic programs submitted additional nomination packets for the CGS/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award, the chair will have distributed those packets with the Stout Award nomination packets and the committee will have followed the same deliberation process (see above) to arrive at a single college nomination for consideration for selection as the university’s CGS/UMI award nominee and the committee chair will notify the dean of the nominee’s name.  

If no additional CGS/UMI award nomination packets were submitted, the recipient of the Stout Dissertation Award automatically becomes the college’s nominee for the CGS/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award and the chair so notifies the dean.  

In either case, the dean’s office sends the CGS/UMI award nomination packet for that individual to the Provost’s Office at the same time as providing the name of the individual selected to receive the Stout Award for the college.

At the university level, if there is more than one dissertation nominated in a currently active CGS/UMI award discipline area, a committee designated by the Provost will select the single university nominee and the Provost’s Office will forward each discipline-area nomination to CGS for inclusion in their recipient selection process.