Monday, September 28, 2015


As I have written before, you get awards because you apply for them, or your colleagues and friends nominate your for them (and you may well have written a draft nominating letter for them to use, several different ones if several nominators). In general there are more deserving recipients than awards, so don't worry that you are not deserving. No one is deserving in this sense.

If you are a member of an organization, get on the awards committee and make sure your colleagues or whoever you prefer is nominated, and then campaign to get them the needed votes. If you are a member of some distinguished group (National Academy of ...), your main job is to get your colleagues in as members. Don't worry about their being deserving--there are lots of deserving folks, and you want your deserving colleagues to be members.

Yesterday, I received a notice that I would be receiving an award. I did not know of the organization or of the award. It turns out I have some fans on the award committee, and they never told me about it. I mention this not to brag, but to indicate the ways of the world. Another time, I was made a distinguished member of a professional society, but in that case I asked several people to nominate me. 

The Provost wants us to win awards. Make him happy. Also, there are lots of internal University awards--research, teaching, mentoring,... If you believe you would be competitive, let your colleagues know, and prepare those nominating letter drafts. Rarely are awards given without your scheming and applying. Nobel prizes are surely in this scheming class. On the other hand, Guggenheim fellowships do require letters of reference, but rarely are they prearranged or schemed.

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