Celebration of Excellence Awards

Division of Student Affairs

Celebration of Excellence AwardsWoman receiving applause from colleagues

Overview & Purpose

The Celebration of Excellence program, created in 2021, serves as a venue for the Division of Student Affairs (DSA) at Sonoma State University (SSU) to recognize and appreciate dedicated and committed staff and administrators who contribute daily to the University and DSA’s successes. This comprehensive program recognizes and rewards staff and administrators for their courageous, innovative, and unprecedented efforts as well as their sustained excellence in fulfilling their responsibilities and service to the DSA and SSU.

Recognition Categories

The Celebration of Excellence includes the following awards:

  • Seawolf-Inspired Commitment Awards
    • Collaboration
    • Commitment
    • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
    • Excellence
    • Integrity
  • Spirit of Excellence Award, and
  • Pillar of Excellence Award.


The Celebration of Excellence Awards are presented to full-time employees within the Division of Student Affairs who have served in the Division for at least one full year (staff and administrators must meet this requirement by June 30 of the previous year of the COE). Award recipients are eligible to receive the same award two consecutive years. Although an individual employee can be nominated for more than one Seawolf-Inspired Commitment Award, employees can receive only one Seawolf-Inspired Commitment Award per year. Each award has specific nomination requirements and selection criteria.

Our Inaugural year (2020-21), the Division of Student Affairs Leadership Team will assist in determining all award recipients. The following  year, the Leadership Team will work with the previous year’s award recipients to determine that year’s award recipients. By the third year of the COE, the past years award recipients will determine the finalists in their respective categories. 


The Celebration of Excellence recognition includes the following awards:

Seawolf-Inspired Commitment Awards:

The Seawolf Inspired Commitment Awards are presented to staff and administrators in the Division who exemplify one of the Seawolf Inspired Values: diversity/equity/inclusion, excellence, commitment, integrity, and collaboration. A maximum of one award for each of the DSA core values will be awarded annually. It is likely that employees nominated for one commitment award may also demonstrate strength in one or more of the remaining four commitment awards.

Criteria: Recipients of the Seawolf-Inspired Commitment Awards must demonstrate an outstanding commitment to Sonoma State University and to the Division of Student Affairs.

  • Seawolf Commitment to Collaboration:
    • Collaboration Definition: Cooperative or coordinated effort by a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. Collaboration is exhibited through teamwork, working together, incorporating different perspectives, resources and responsibilities, communication, partnership, cooperation, group effort, open-mindedness, relationships, support, and trust.
  • Examples of Collaboration:
    • Work with others to realize shared goals
    • Identify gaps in processes and reach out to colleagues to develop solutions
    • Assist colleagues with an event, activity, or process outside of their primary area of responsibility in order to meet the needs of students


  • Seawolf Commitment to Commitment:
    • Commitment Definition: A willful promise to do or give something or being dedicated to a person or task; an engagement or obligation that compels fulfillment and may restrict freedom. Commitment is evidenced by dedication, loyalty, hard work, persistence, duty, responsibility, determination, follow through, being ethical, keeping a promise, being devoted, and maintaining focus.
  • Examples of Commitment:
    • Focus on meeting the needs of students
    • Recognize the importance of their roles and responsibilities and always give 100%
    • Notable sacrifices are made to assure that commitments are achieved


  • Seawolf Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion:
    • Diversity Definition: The incorporation of many different types or ideas; the inclusion of individuals representing more than one nationality, race, religion, economic position, sexual orientation, ability status, and political affiliations, to name a few. Diversity is characterized by different backgrounds and perspectives, multiculturalism, open-mindedness, acceptance, appreciating and celebrating differences, variety, culture, inclusion, knowledge, respect, uniqueness, learning, and understanding.
  • Examples of Diversity:
    • Intentionally plan events/activities and processes that recognize individual differences, enable access, encourage dialogue and understanding and embrace our differences as individuals within a community
    • Recognize and respect various points of view when interacting with colleagues, students and other members of the campus community
    • Identify and proactively work with other members of the campus community to eliminate barriers that may prohibit access to the University and all academic and co-curricular activities.


  • Seawolf Commitment to Excellence:
    • Excellence Definition: Being characterized as outstanding or extremely good; the state of excelling. Excellence is epitomized by high-quality work, going above and beyond, being or doing the best, hard work, merit, and dedication.
  • Examples of Excellence:
    • Acknowledge accomplishments and opportunities for improvement through continuously working to improve programs, services, and process for students, the DSA, and SSU
    • Initiates systematic assessment to improve programs, services, and processes that serve students, the DSA, and SSU
    • Improve a process or program that meets the needs of students in a more effective, fair, or efficient way
    • Know their job or area well; recognized as an expert


  • Seawolf Commitment to Integrity:
    • Integrity Definition: The quality of being above reproach, having strong principles, and uprightness. Integrity is exemplified by honesty, ethical thought and behavior, trustworthiness, honor, loyalty, reliability, transparency, truth, values, doing what you say you will do, and doing what is right.
  • Examples of Integrity:
    • Deliver on promises to students as well as other members of the community (i.e. “say what you mean and do what you say”)
    • Maintain professionalism and adhere to good moral and ethical principles at all times
    • Be accountable and hold others accountable for commitments that have been made to students, colleagues and other members of the community
    • Maintain and strengthen the integrity of the institution by making decisions that are supported by policies and uphold the mission of the University


Spirit of Excellence Award:

This award is presented to up to two colleagues outside the Division for their integrity, unwavering commitment to student success, spirit of collaboration in an environment characterized by adversity, and continuous collaborative efforts in the pursuit of excellence. The recipient is selected by the Vice President for Student Affairs Executive Team and the selection is informed, in part, by the nominations received from Division members.

Criteria: Recipient(s) of the Spirit of Excellence Award must demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Assisted the Division of Student Affairs in acquiring resources for programs and services, or implemented a new process or policy that supports student success
  • Demonstrated exemplary customer service and/or support for student and the Division of Student Affairs
  • Collaborated in identifying creative solutions that made a significant and positive difference for students and/or the Division of Student Affairs.


Pillar of Excellence:

This award is presented to an employee in the Division who has demonstrated an exemplary level of integrity and professionalism within the Student Affairs Division and University. The Pillar Award is considered the Division’s Employee of the Year Award. The recipient is selected by a team of faculty and staff assembled by the Vice President of Student Affairs’ Executive Team who will endeavor to include at least one faculty member, a staff member from the Division of Administration and Finance, a member of the Associated Students, a staff member from Advancement, and all the members of the Vice President’s Leadership team.

Criteria:Recipient(s) of the Pillar of Excellence Award must demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Dedication and commitment to achieving the mission/purpose of the University, the Division and their respective program(s)/service
  • Personal style and influence which motivates and inspires those with whom the interact
  • Performance of assigned tasks in an exemplary fashion while inspiring others to improve
  • Outstanding conduct and teamwork in the performance of their duties.
  • Exceptional reliability, cooperation and collegiality toward achieving Departmental, Division and University goals and objectives
  • Service as “pillar” in the DSA while embodying the Division’s Core Values.


Nomination Guidelines

  • Nominations must be submitted electronically. The nomination form is emailed to division employees in early Spring.
  • Use a separate nomination form for each nominee and for each award.
  • Incomplete nominations will not be accepted.
  • Nominations will only be accepted from employees within the DSA.
  • Self-nominations will not be accepted.
  • Only nominations for individuals will be accepted.
  • Nominations must be received by the deadline (5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 2, 2021).
  • Individuals may nominate a candidate in more than one Seawolf-Inspired Commitment Award category.
  • Multiple nominations submitted for one person do not guarantee that individual as the winner of that category.
  • Each nomination should be a minimum of 250 and a maximum of 500 words.
  • Tips for writing an award nomination


Nomination Forms

Links to the nomination forms are in the COE Awards Guidelines, which you can find in the DSA Documents "file cabinet" in Engage.

The deadline for all award nomination submissions is by 5pm on Friday, April 2, 2021. Now closed until next year!


Recipients of the Celebration of Excellence (COE) awards receive:

  • Personal congratulations from the Vice President for Student Affairs
  • A certificate and a trophy
  • Acknowledgment on the Student Affairs website
  • Recognition at the annual COE Awards event


For questions about the above or for more information regarding the Celebration of Excellence, please contact Rachel Carbone, Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs, at (415) 699-4890 or carbone@sonoma.edu.