Distinguished Contribution in a Discipline


In 1982 Grand Valley State University instituted awards to recognize distinguished contributions in a discipline. This award is given to a member of the faculty whose performance in scholarly or creative activities, or whose contributions through service to professional organizations, is clearly outstanding. The basis for this award is demonstrated research, scholarly, or creative accomplishment or service through professional organizations, i.e., significant contribution to one's discipline, that is documented as exceptional by professional peers or public acclaim according to one of the following specific criteria: publication in professional media; professional awards, prizes, or honors; unsolicited reviews by critics or peers; support received through competitive applications to funding agencies, or impact on others in the discipline. The award may recognize a single, clearly exceptional accomplishment or a continued record of achievement. The award will be based primarily on accomplishments while a member of the GVSU faculty.


To view or print the PDF version of this information: CLICK HERE


All tenured and tenure-track faculty members. 

Application Materials

The Committee requires strong and substantial evidence for nominees.  Each dossier must contain all of the following. Dossiers with missing items will be returned unread.

  1. Completed Declaration Page
  2. A statement from the nominee, one or two pages in length, of that person's professional accomplishments deemed most significant
  3. Chair's letter (unless chair is the candidate): Must provide specific and detailed evidence on the quality and impact of the nominee's research.  Examples of evidence supporting the candidate’s accomplishments should include information about the scope, longevity and effect of his/her efforts
  4. A current curriculum vitae.
  5. Four letters of support from peers in a position to evaluate the nominee's work. At least two of the four letters of support must come from outside of GVSU, and all should be mailed directly to the chair of the nominee's department as listed on the letter of support.  The Research and Development Committee recognizes that there is a significant diversity of disciplines and recognized scholarly activities. To ensure that nominations from all disciplines are given a fair evaluation for the Distinguished Contribution in a Discipline Award, letters of nomination should address key categories and concepts for assessment of scholarly activity and research, as recognized within the candidate's discipline.
  6. Other supplementary materials may be submitted but are not required



To download a Declaration Page please CLICK HERE

To download a Letter of Support Template please CLICK HERE

Process and Timeline


  1. Each year the Faculty Research and Development Committee will request nominations. Each nomination, which may or may not be solicited by the candidate, must be supported in signature by three peers within or outside GVSU and the Dean’s signature. Members of the Faculty Research and Development Committee may not nominate candidates for this award. A faculty member may be nominated by his/her unit, a faculty member inside or outside his/her unit, or by any student or alumni with knowledge of the nominee’s qualifications for the award.
  2. A complete dossier must be received by the Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence no later than November 1. The nominee’s unit is responsible for obtaining pertinent data and providing the required information.  Please check with your Dean for any deadline requiring you to submit to the Dean's office for review and signatures prior to being sent to CSCE by November 1.
  3. The Faculty Research and Development Committee will review all candidates and make appropriate recommendations to the Provost by December 15.
  4. The Provost will inform the Research and Development Committee and the awardee of her decision.   The awards need not be made each year if, in the opinion of the Provost and/or the Committee, there are no suitable candidates.
  5. The award, consisting of a plaque plus a cash payment, is presented by the Provost at the Faculty Awards Convocation, held on the first Thursday in February. 

Past Awardees

To view all past award winners CLICK HERE



2014 Awardee

Figen Mekik, Ph.D.
Professor of Geology
Joined Grand Valley State University in 2000

Fegin Mekik has an uncanny ability of finding success in her research, in gaining external funding, in teaching and mentoring students, and in publishing her research.  Indeed, Professor Mekik has received continuous National Science Foundation funding since 2002 for her research on ocean acidification and carbon chemistry, which lays the groundwork of ocean acidification events in Earth’s past and provides a natural analog for human caused ocean acidification events of today. While on sabbatical, Mekik was at Princeton University collaborating on research with Daniel Sigman.  She has also worked in partnership with Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of British Columbia and Texas A&M.  In addition to research, she serves as secretary for the Paleo-oceanography and Paleoclimatology group of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) where she has taken on the additional role of mentoring faculty serving as new session chairs


2014 Awardee

Deborah Herrington, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Joined Grand Valley State University in 2003

Deborah Herrington’s career in chemical education is remarkable. As co-developer of the Target Inquiry (TI) program, Associate Professor Herrington helped design a nationally accepted chemistry education program that has changed the way in which high school chemistry is taught.  In collaboration with a colleague, she acquired a large grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation to fund the initial implementation of the TI program.  The grant was one of only eight provided since 2005 that totaled over $100,000.  Not only is her research widely recognized within the chemistry education community, but also she is noted for her level of service to organizations such as the American Chemical Society, Chemical Education Research Committee, and the National ACS Awards Selection Committee, among others.  In addition, Professor Harrington has organized symposia at both the National American Chemical Society Meetings and the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education and will host the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education at Grand Valley in 2014.