Graduation is just under two months away and though things may look different than in years past, one constant is the recognition of seniors who have done exemplary work during their time at Mercyhurst.
Each year several baccalaureate graduation awards are given to seniors who have excelled in academics, extra-curriculars, service or other areas of campus life.
Full-time faculty, staff and administrators have the opportunity to nominate graduating seniors for the University’s top awards with divisional and departmental faculty nominating students for divisional awards.
“For graduating seniors, these awards are a visible sign that the university’s commitment to excellence is genuine,” said executive director of Operations, Karen Meyer.
“They demonstrate that good work matters and that the university community recognizes and rejoices in student success. In highlighting extraordinary effort and remarkable achievement, the graduation awards celebrate students who have embraced the challenge voiced by Mother Catherine McAuley when she called on us ‘to resolve to be good today but better tomorrow,’” Meyer said.
The entirety of this process is overseen by the office of the Provost, but involves faculty, staff and administrators throughout the university.
“My role as the executive director of Operations for the Office of the Provost is to assist our Provost in committee selection that represents different constituencies across campus that review the nominations and select the winner,” Meyer said. “We also provide student information to all the college deans and associate deans to assist in selection of the individual school awards as well as the graduate program directors in their selection process. All University wide winners are reviewed through the Provost Council with the final approval through President’s Cabinet.”
For students to be eligible for these awards, they not only must exemplify excellence in their given field, but they must also complete all coursework by the end of the semester and be cleared by the Student Conduct Office as having no serious disciplinary write-ups.
Candidates for the university -wide awards may not have more than one year of transfer credits towards their 121 credit hours for graduation. Nominations for the university-wide awards were due on March 12, those including the Carpe Diem Award, Sister Carolyn Herrmann Service Award, Frank Barry Leadership Award and the Catherine McAuley Adult Student Award.
The Carpe Diem Award is the highest honor given to a traditional student on the basis of intellectual competency, personal integrity and leadership impact. It is awarded to the student to had the greatest positive impact on campus, exemplifying the motto “Carpe Diem.”
Beyond recognition of their work on campus, the recipient also has the honor of speaking at commencement.
As for the Sister Carolyn Herrmann Service Award, this award recognizes a student who exemplifies the spirit of former University President Sr. Carolyn Herrmann by selflessly giving their time, energy, loyalty and talents through service.
From service to leadership, the Frank Barry Leadership Award is named after one of Mercyhurst’s first male student government presidents.
The award is given to a student who has proven themselves to be an exemplary leader during their time at Mercyhurst.
The final of these university awards is the Catherine McAuley Adult Student Award, presented to an adult student who is found to be the most outstanding adult student in their class. This award is based not only on GPA, but also personal and professional achievements as well as family responsibilities, among other challenges.
The awards do not stop here with divisional/ departmental awards recognizing more specific populations of students.
Beginning with the Bishop’s Award for Academic Excellence, this award recognizes an undergraduate student who is considered the top scholar in their class based off GPA and program demands.
The Registrar’s Office provides the President’s Selection Committee with the names of the top five highest cumulative GPAs, one of which will be selected based off the given criteria. A unique aspect of the Bishop’s Award is that the winner also receives a cash prize from the Catholic Diocese of Erie.
Another award named after a former president, the Mother Borgia Egan Honors Award is presented to a “model honors student” who not only completed all the requirements of the Honors Program, but also demonstrated an appreciation for the cultural environment of the University, academic achievement, professional accomplishments and dedication to service.
Continuing with the theme of presidents, the President’s Award for Excellence in the Academic Colleges is awarded to one student from each of the four colleges at the university: Hafenmeier College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences, the Walker College of Business and the Zurn College of Natural and Health Sciences.
With the guidance of the college’s dean, three seniors are nominated for each college with the winner selected based on GPA and overall contribution to the college.
The deserving student who receives this award is considered to be the top scholar in their respective college.
The President’s Award for Adult Excellence is guided by the recommendation of the deans, with each nominating one adult student for the award. Much like the President’s Award for Excellence in the Academic Colleges, selection is based off GPA and university contributions, naming this adult student a top scholar of the university.
Another award based of the spirit of Mercyhurst is the Alumni Recognition Award, an honor granted to an undergraduate student who has shown strong ties to their alma matter with both love and spirit.
The final award is the Sister Eustace Taylor Graduate Student Award, of the seven graduate programs, one student is selected for their exemplary work in their program, GPA and overall contributions.
With nominations now all submitted, decisions about award winners will be made in the coming week.
Students should expect to hear these results sometime in the beginning of April.
An award ceremony is held closer to graduation for further celebration of students’ accomplishments.
While these are awards are exciting in their recognition of a job well done, their importance stems beyond prestige.
“The graduation awards, each in its own way, represent the values inherent in the educational commitment Mercyhurst makes to its students through its unique Mission and Core Values,” said Meyer. “From the academic excellence inscribed in the Bishop’s and President’s awards to the service acknowledged in the Sister Carolyn and Frank Barry, the graduation awards are explicit reminders of who we are as a university, a celebration of student success, and the recognition that it is our graduates who take the Mission into the world and continue the legacy of the Sisters of Mercy.”
With so many things different this year, seniors will still be acknowledged as normal in this special way. Good luck to all seniors, and Carpe Diem!