Sept. 22, 2021 The Division of Human Resources & Equity is now called the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture.

Excellence Through Innovation Award

The University of Toronto’s Excellence Through Innovation Award (ETIA) program recognizes exemplary administrative staff and librarians and provides a platform for sharing outstanding practices across our campuses. ETIA is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate ‘above-and-beyond’ contributions towards the University’s mission as one of the world’s foremost research-intensive universities, driven to invent and innovate.

The contributions of Advancement Professionals, Confidential and Professional & Managerial staff, Research Associates and Senior Research Associates, Librarians, Unionized administrative (non-academic), and Casual employees will be assessed as either members of a team or as an individual. All submissions are reviewed by a panel of the University’s senior leadership team who consider how and if certain initiatives can be implemented across U of T’s three campuses.


2017-18 Excellence Through Innovation Award Reception

See photos from past events:


Program Overview

The Excellence Through Innovation Award program assesses significant contribution(s) towards one or more of the following objectives:

  1. Enriching the student experience
  2. Promoting and advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in all our activities
  3. Elevating the employee experience
  4. Improving administrative and operational processes
  5. Fostering community connection

Assessment Criteria

Individuals and/or Teams considered for this award will have made a significant contribution(s) achieving the one or more of the objectives outlined above. The impact of the contribution(s) should extend beyond the immediate work unit of the nominee(s), and have some effect on the broader University community, making a measurable or demonstrable impact. The level of contribution will be considered relative to the scope of nominees’ position(s).

The Review Committees assess the significance of each nomination against the objective(s) and the context of the Department, Division and/or University along with at least two of the following assessment criteria:

  1. Transferability
  2. Quality Impact
  3. Productivity
  4. Cost Savings
  5. Transformative Value
  6. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Eligibility Guidelines

Each nomination will be subject to the following eligibility guidelines:

  • Advancement Professionals, Confidential and Professional & Managerial Staff, Research Associates and Senior Research Associates, Librarians, Unionized administrative (non-academic), and Casual employees are eligible for both individual and team contribution nominations.
  • Any staff member or librarian may nominate individuals / teams for the award. Nominators cannot self-nominate or be included as a member of the team they are nominating.
  • Nominees considered for this program must be in good standing and should demonstrate a high standard of performance in their daily responsibilities. Nominators who are not an individual’s direct supervisor should contact the supervisor to discuss the potential nomination prior to submitting.
  • Individuals can be nominated and recognized for more than one accomplishment; however, only one prize will be awarded.

Submissions of contributions between June 2018 and May 2021 would be eligible for consideration by the award program.

Submission Guidelines

All nominations for ETIA are submitted via the True Blue Recognition Platform. A button for Excellence Through Innovation Awards will appear when “Nominate” is selected under the Recognize Someone header. Please note that attachments cannot be included with submissions.

The nominations deadline has been extended to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 3, 2021.

Nominators will be asked to respond to the following questions:

  • What is the initiative/project?
  • Why is this innovative?
  • What issue(s) did this address?
  • What challenges were encountered in bringing this initiative to fruition?

Please explain how this initiative contributes to at least two of the assessment criteria and one or more of the strategic objectives.

Please feel free to add up to six (6) supporting web links to provide additional information about the project/initiative (if needed).

Provide a brief description of the initiative that could be used for publishing online should the nomination be successful. (Not more than a paragraph).

Should you require assistance with your submission please contact the Recognition & Engagement Team at or 416-978-8587.

Helpful Tips for Completing the Nomination Form

In completing the nomination submission please:

  • Be specific – give examples and the details of what your candidate or team has done that meets the selection criteria. Every candidate will not exhibit all of the award-winning characteristics, but you should provide evidence of those demonstrated by your candidate
  • Avoid general statements such as: “the nominee has a pleasant personality,” “the nominee is a seasoned professional,” or “the nominee is always helpful.”
  • Include as much qualitative and quantitative information as you can about the nominee’s work and contributions
  • If you are nominating a team or group, be sure to list all members and describe how they work collaboratively to the benefit of the university. The nomination statement should explain the importance of team effort to the group’s overall success.

Please see our guide How to Write an Impactful Award Nomination for additional details.

The Review Committees

  1. Advisory Committee: conducts initial screening of all the nominations and selects nominations to be reviewed by the ETIA Executive Committee
  2. Executive Committee: reviews the pre-assessed nominations and approves the final selection of recipients.

Description of Objectives

Enriching the student experience:

  • uses resources to ensure that every student has the opportunity for a unique, well-rounded experience at U of T
  • enhances student services in response to students’ diverse needs; improves institutional and equitable supports for students
  • contributes to making participatory learning experiences and communities available to students

Promoting and advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in all our activities:

  • embed equity, diversity, and inclusion in practices and processes
  • be intentional: to ensure student body, staff, librarians, and faculty voices are included and reflective in our scholarship, research, and academic and support programs
  • foster an inclusive culture through creating intentional initiatives

Elevating the employee experience:

  • encourages the recruitment of diverse faculty, librarians, and staff that recognize the ethos of our student-centered university
  • supports and promotes inclusive initiatives that onboard, develop, mentor, and retain faculty, librarians, and staff
  • employs inclusive strategies that further our efforts to retain, recognize, mentor, support, and promote outstanding staff; endorses and promote programs that improve the workplace
  • fostering an inclusive team environment that creates and fosters a sense of belonging

Improving administrative and operational processes:

  • advances U of T’s mission through effectively allocating and generating resources
  • uniquely maximizes or transforms administrative or operational processes, systems, and resources
  • innovatively bring together information or services that better support our diverse students, librarians, and faculty

Fostering community connection:

  • demonstrates commitment to public advocacy and advancement that encourages initiatives that unite our three campuses
  • identifies opportunities for community-based experiential learning for our students; enhance collaborations and promote access, success and inclusion that supports our diverse University community

Award Prizing

Individual Winners:

Each individual recipient of an Excellence Through Innovation Award receives:

  • An ETIA Certificate
  • $500 in True Blue Points

Group / Team Winners:

Each member of group or team that receives an Excellence Through Innovation Award receives:

  • An ETIA Certificate
  • $300 in True Blue Points

Reference Terms

Contribution: a project, initiative, practice, program, technique, venture, event, service, or method.

Cost Savings: what is the meaningful cost savings at the Departmental, Divisional or University level? (i.e. measurable dollars saved relative to previous costs, additional revenues relative to base revenues, etc.)

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion: How has the contribution has advanced an inclusive culture, builds knowledge and capacity and creates equitable opportunities for students, faculty, librarians, and staff

Innovation: introduction of something new or a change to an existing product, idea, or method; advanced and original, not necessarily related to a technological advancement.

Productivity: to what extent has the contribution(s) positively impacted productivity at the Department or Division?

Quality Impact: to what extent has the contribution improved the quality-of-service delivery, the environment, or working conditions for staff or users?

Transferability: what is the potential for use/ adoption at other locations within the University?

Transformative: what change outcomes resulted from this initiative?

Transformative Value: how has the contribution(s) has changed a service, Department, Division, or the broader University? (ie. Cultural shift, impact on strategic direction, empowerment of employees, etc.)”


Past Recipients

2021 Excellence Through Innovation Award


2018 Excellence Through Innovation Award


2016 Excellence Through Innovation Award


2014 Excellence Through Innovation Award


2013 Excellence Through Innovation Award


2012 Excellence Through Innovation Award


2011 Excellence Through Innovation Award

Read the list of staff recognized for their contributions in 2011.