Excellence Through Innovation Award

Established in 2005, the Excellence Through Innovation Award (ETIA) program recognizes exemplary administrative staff and librarians and provides a platform for sharing outstanding practices across our tri-campus community. The ETIA program 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 will consider how and if certain initiatives have or 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 ETIA program assesses significant contribution(s) towards one or more of the following objectives.

Enriching the Student Experience:

  • Ensures 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; and / or
  • Contributes to making participatory learning experiences and communities available to students.

Promoting and Advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion:

  • Embeds equity, diversity, and inclusion in practices and processes,
  • Intentionally ensures students, staff, librarians, and faculty members’ voices are included and reflected in our scholarship, research, and academic and support programs and / or
  • Fosters an inclusive culture by creating intentional initiatives.

Elevating the Employee Experience:

  • Encourages the recruitment of diverse faculty members, librarians, and staff that recognize the ethos of our student-centered University,
  • Supports and promotes inclusive initiatives that onboard, develop, mentor, and retain faculty members, librarians, and staff,
  • Employs inclusive strategies that further our efforts to retain, recognize, mentor, support, and promote outstanding staff; endorses and promotes programs that improve the workplace,
  • Fosters an inclusive team environment that creates and creates a sense of belonging.

Improving Administrative / Operational Processes:

  • Advances U of T’s mission by effectively allocating and generating resources,
  • Uniquely maximizes or transforms administrative and / or operational processes, systems, and resources,
  • Innovatively brings together information or services that better support our diverse students, faculty members, librarians and staff.

Fostering Community Connection:

  • Demonstrates commitment to public advocacy and advancement that encourages initiatives that unite the tri-campus.
  • Identifies opportunities for community-based experiential learning for our students,
  • Enhances collaborations and promotes access, success and inclusion that supports our diverse University community.

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), should have some effect on the broader University community, making a measurable or demonstrable impact, or the potential to be implemented more broadly across the institution thereby increasing the overall impact of the initiative. The level of contribution will be considered relative to the scope of nominees’ position(s).

Nominators are encouraged to address the following questions in their nomination packages:

  • What was the initiative / project undertaken by the nominee?
  • What problem was this initiative intending to solve?
  • What issues were addressed in the process?
  • How was the solution innovative?
  • What challenges were encountered in bringing this initiative to fruition?

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.


  • What is the potential for use / adoption at other locations across the tri-campus?
  • Have other units already adopted this solution locally at U of T as a result of the initiative’s success and / or learnings?

Quality Impact:

  • To what extent has the contribution(s) improved the quality-of-service delivery, the environment, or working conditions for staff or users at U of T?


  • To what extent has the contribution(s) positively impacted productivity at the Department or Division?

Cost Savings:

  • Has this initiative resulted in meaningful cost savings at the Departmental, Divisional or University level?
  • Were there measurable dollars saved relative to previous costs and / or additional revenues relative to base revenues?

Transformative Value:

  • How has the contribution(s) changed a service, Department, Division, or the broader University?
  • What was the cultural shift or impact on strategic direction?
  • How were students, faculty members, librarians and / or staff empowered because of the outcome?

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion:

  • How has the contribution(s) fostered and / or advanced an inclusive or equitable culture at U of T?
  • Did the contribution(s) build knowledge and / or capacity that creates equitable opportunities for students, faculty members, librarians, and staff?


Any employee or supervisor can nominate a librarian or staff member for the ETIA program. Self-nominations are not accepted, nor can nominators include themselves as a member of a team nomination.

Nominees for an Individual ETIA must:

  • Be one of the following: Advancement Professional, Confidential Staff, Professional & Managerial Staff; Research Associate / Senior Research Associate, Librarian, Unionized administrative (non-academic) staff, or a Casual employee,
  • Be in good standing and be in active status at the University at the time nominations close.

Nominees for a Team or Group ETIA can consist of:

  • Advancement Professionals, Confidential Staff, Professional & Managerial Staff, Research Associate / Senior Research Associates, Librarians, Unionized administrative (non-academic) staff, or Casual employees, and
  • All team / group members must be in good standing and be in active status at the University at the time nominations close.

The 2023-2024 ETIA program will consider the nominee’s(s’) efforts and accomplishments until August 31, 2023.

The Nomination Process

Nominations for the 2023-2024 Excellence Through Innovation Awards opened on July 10, 2023.

Nominations should describe in detail the specific contribution(s) that an individual or team / group has made in relation to one or more of the program objectives and assessment criteria listed above. Successful nominations packages will typically focus on the objectives and criteria that the nominee best meets or exceeds rather than attempt to address all of the objectives and criteria listed above.

A complete nomination package for the ETIA program consists of the following:

  • A cover letter from the lead nominator providing the rationale for the nomination and a description of the nominee’s(s’) contribution(s) and impact(s).
  • Two letters of support from colleagues / peers. Please note:
    • A letter of support signed by multiple individuals counts as one letter towards the total.
    • If the lead nominator is not the nominee’s manager or supervisor, one supporting letter must be from the nominee’s manager or supervisor (or higher).
  • A brief description of your nominee that could be used for publishing online should the nomination be successful.
  • You may also include up to five supporting web links to provide additional information about the project/initiative (if needed).

Letters should not exceed two pages in length each.

Nominators must submit nominations for the program through the True Blue Recognition Platform. The selection Committees will review all submitted nominations and can then ask for further details.

All nomination materials will remain confidential.

Please do not submit more than the required number of documents and supporting letters. The Selection Committees will not consider supplementary documents as part of the nomination package.

Submission Guidelines

Nomination Deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 22, 2023.

Please submit nomination packages electronically through the True Blue Recognition Platform.

Two buttons for the ETIA program will appear when “Nominate” is selected under the “Recognize” header, one for individual nominations and one for team / group nominations.

Please upload the nomination letter and supporting letters using the online form and enter the brief description of your nominee in the appropriate text field.

Should you require assistance with your submission, please contact the Recognition & Engagement Team at thanks@utoronto.ca.

Tips for Compiling a Successful Nomination Package

In completing the nomination submission, please:

  • Be specific by giving examples and the details of what your nominee has done that meets the selection criteria.
  • Be intentional in how you frame your nomination. Not every nominee will demonstrate achievements in all award criteria. Use your nomination to intentionally identify the criteria where your nominee has made a demonstrable impact and provide evidence to support your nomination.
  • Avoid general statements such as: “the nominee has a pleasant personality,” “the nominee is a seasoned professional,” or “the nominee is always helpful” in your submission.
  • Include as much qualitative and quantitative information as you can about the nominee’s work and contributions.
  • Avoid the use of uncommon or undefined acronyms in the description of your nominee’s work and contributions.

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


  1. Advisory Committee: conducts the 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.

The Advisory & Executive Committees will meet in the Fall of 2023 to select the EUTA Award Recipients.

Award Prizing

Individual Winners:

Each individual winning nominee shall receive:

  • An ETIA Certificate,
  • 2,500 in True Blue Points redeemable for prizes on the True Blue Recognition Platform, and
  • An invitation to the ETIA Presentation & Reception with the Advisory & Executive Committee members and the lead nominators for each winner.

Group / Team Winners:

Each member of a winning group or team shall receive:

  • An ETIA Certificate,
  • 1,500 in True Blue Points redeemable for prizes on the True Blue Recognition Platform, and
  • An invitation to the ETIA Presentation & Reception with the Advisory & Executive Committee members and the lead nominators for each winner.

Individuals can be nominated and recognized for more than one accomplishment per year. However, only one prize will be awarded annually. When a difference in the value of the prize occurs, the individual will receive the greater value of the two.

Past Recipients

Citations for all the recipients of an ETIA are available below.

Nominators are encouraged to review the most recent award-winning profiles of individuals and teams / groups below before compiling a nomination.

2023-24 Excellence Through Innovation Award

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