Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science

"Dealing with failure is easy: Work hard to improve. Success is also easy to handle: You've solved the wrong problem. Work hard to improve."

Alan J. Perlis


The SCS Staff Recognition Awards seek to recognize staff for going above and beyond their assigned duties, often crossing traditional positional or departmental boundaries. The definitions below are intended to serve as guidelines for nominators to understand the perspective of the selection committee when it reviews the whole set of nominations. No particular definition below will be used to limit or restrict eligibility of any particular nomination in a given category. As noted in the nomination form, the category(ies) selected by the nominator will be regarded by the committee as a suggestion. The selection committee and the Dean reserve the right to move a particular nomination to a different category based on the comparison of that nomination with other nominations received in a given year. In addition, the Dean may from time to time create a new category to recognize a particularly unique contribution noted in a nomination. Nominators planning to co-nominate an individual should work together whenever possible to submit a single nomination. Names of additional nominators can be included in the body of the nomination.

Attention Nominators:

We intend to make the text of your nomination public via this website. In the interest of space, we are likely to edit most nominations. Our default will be to include the name(s) of the nominator(s) with each nomination. If you prefer not to have your name included, please indicate this by checking the "Anonymous Nomination" option when submitting your nomination.


The full text of each nomination will be reviewed by one or more members of a selection committee. The selection committee will include the Associate Dean for Finance and Administration plus three or more SCS staff members each of whom is a previous winner of a SCS Staff Recognition award. After reviewing all of the nominations, the committee will provide to the Dean two or more recommendations for each award, and the Dean will make a final selection for each award.


  1. Rookie of the Year: This award recognizes exceptional performance by an employee who has only been in the SCS environment for a short time. We typically use one year as the definition of “short time,” but that should not be viewed as a strict cutoff.
  2. Sustained Excellence: The award for sustained excellence is intended to recognize the exceptional performance of a staff member in SCS over the course of several years. There is no minimum or maximum time period. Generally the nominees in this category will be well known across much of SCS, and will be seen as a "go to" person.
  3. Individual Dedication: Certain words and phrases come to mind as companions to "dedication." Persistent. Reliable. Loyal. Though it is usually simple to distinguish between an employee who is dedicated and one who is not, it is a challenge to compare two dedicated employees and conclude that one is *more* dedicated than the other. Nominators are encouraged to write nominations in this category that focus on the remarkable result - the impact to the department or the college - of the dedication of the individual, and not just the fact that he/she is dedicated.
  4. Outstanding Staff: Our standards for staff performance in SCS are very high. The award for outstanding staff is intended to recognize an individual whose performance has clearly exceeded our usual standard in some way. Nominations in this category often include a story of some recent specific and/or remarkable achievement, but have also included more general descriptions of reliability and excellence.
  5. Citizenship: The award for Citizenship will generally be given to a SCS staff member who has demonstrated a broad concern for the whole SCS community. Often this takes the form of working across department boundaries, but sometimes a nominee is observed to be cheerfully and genuinely helpful beyond her/his job duties to anyone with whom she/he comes in contact. Past selection committees have also taken note of nominees whose activities have a positive impact on the external perception of SCS, taking care not to favor nominations of individuals whose job functions expose them to external constituencies more frequently.
  6. Teamwork: The award for teamwork is intended to recognize accomplishments which include cooperation across traditionally defined departments or positions. The teamwork category will often result in recognition of *teams* of SCS staff doing exceptional work. However, nominations of individuals who have been successful at reaching across boundaries will be considered on an equal plane with those of teams.

Faculty Awards

  1. Alan J. Perlis Award for Imagination in Computer Science: This award was established in 2013 to recognize a CMU person who has shown sustained creativity in out-of-the-box computer science, leading to demonstrated real-world impact. The call for nominations of this award comes from Mahadev Satyanarayanan (Satya).
  2. The Allen Newell Award for Research Excellence: This award recognizes an outstanding body of work that epitomizes Allen Newell's research style as expressed in his words below. The call for nominations of this award comes from Mahadev Satyanarayanan (Satya).
    • "Good science responds well to real phenomena or real problems."
    • "Good science is in the details."
    • "Good science makes a difference."
  3. Herbert A. Simon Award for Teaching Excellence in Computer Science: This award acknowledges excellence and dedication to teaching by a faculty member in the School or Computer Science. It recognized a standard of excellence that will long be the legacy of Dr. Simon, a standard worthy of emulation. The winner of this award is nominated and chosen by SCS undergrad students and managed by Tom Cortina.
  4. Joel and Ruth Spira Teaching Award (Sponsored by Lutron Electronics Co.): Established with an endowment by the Lutron Foundation, this award is presented to an SCS faculty member based on major accomplishments and outstanding qualities and strengths in teaching. The winner of this award is nominated and chosen by the SCS faculty.