Margaret Ellen White Award

Fall 2022 Deadline is Monday December 5th at 11:59 PM


This award was established in 1985 by Margaret Ellen White to show her appreciation for excellent guidance and encouragement of graduate students. Miss White, now deceased, graduated from Iowa State's College of Home Economics and served as an administrative assistant in the Graduate College for thirty-seven years.



The purpose of this award is for students to recognize superior performance by a member of the graduate faculty each year. The award recognizes the effectiveness of major professors who serve as mentors. Nominees are faculty who enrich the student-professor relationship by support and attention to detail, which enables students to finish their work in a timely and scholarly manner. Major professors considered for this award are also expected to provide professional assistance to their students beyond graduation. This award is student-led and is organized, funded, and maintained by the Graduate and Professional Student Senate. 



The selected faculty member is recognized at Fall Convocation and receives a $2,500 prize and a plaque. 



  • The nominee must be a current member of Iowa State University's graduate faculty. 
  • Applications may only be completed by students who are directly advised by the professor (e.g., not just a course instructor).
    • Faculty may NOT self nominate or nominate another faculty member.
  • The nominee must have advised at least six (6) students so that they are eligible for further review.
    • Your DOGE, department's administrative support staff, or the Graduate College can provide this information for you.




  • The nominator completes and submits the application to the GPSS. 
  • The GPSS sends names of nominees to the Graduate College to verify their eligibility for the award.
  • GPSS Senator(s) select one nomination to represent their department should there be multiple eligible applications.
  • Applications are reviewed by the Awards Committee of the GPSS.
  • The top 3-5 scoring applications are sent to the Graduate College.
  • Additional students/alumni listed in the application are contacted to provide support letters for finalists. Similarly, the C.V. of the nominee is acquired.
  • A Graduate Council committee (with GPSS representatives) reviews final applications.
  • The selected nominee is informed in April, and the recipient is formally recognized in the fall convocation ceremony. 


Nomination Form: 

To download the nomination form, click here


Former MEW Award Recipents:

A list of recipients for the Margaret Ellen White Graduate Faculty Award is also available, here.


Frequestly Asked Questions:

  1. Who can make nominations?

    Any graduate student can nominate their major professor/advisor. Faculty may NOT self-nominate, nor can they nominate another faculty member. 

  2. Can I nominate several professors?

    No, only one.

  3. How do I find out if my major professor is eligible to be nominated for this award if I don’t know how many program of study committees they have chaired? And why does the number matter?

    You can ask the graduate support staff in your program or the Graduate College, and they will find out how many student POS committees that professor has chaired. The professor's full name and the department they are affiliated with are needed for them to gather this information for you.

    The reason that only professors who have chaired at least 6 committees are eligible for this award is so that there is plenty of supporting evidence as to the quality of the professor’s mentoring from at least 6 students. If a professor has only been at ISU a short time, it is better to wait until they have supervised more students and can generate more widespread support, even beyond graduation. Then they have a stronger chance of winning.

  4. What makes a strong nomination for the Margaret Ellen White Graduate Faculty Award?

    • Often, it is a good idea for a number of current graduate students to write a group nomination for one professor. All their names would go on the nomination form, and data from each person’s experiences with the professor is included in the nomination responses. Don’t include students who have already graduated on the nomination, as they are involved with the next step of the award process (see Q. 5).
    • You want to include a lot of specific examples and evidence when answering the nomination form questions.
    • Generally all the nominees are major professors who work successfully and well with their students; committee members are looking for evidence that makes one person stand out from their peers. Provide specific examples.
  5. Could you explain the selection process for this award with more detail?

    • First, graduate students complete nominations of professors and submit these to GPSS in the fall semester.
    • Second, a GPSS committee evaluates these nominations and forwards the top ones (up to 6) to the Graduate College for further review.
    • Third, in the spring semester, the Graduate College solicits CVs from nominees’ departments and letters or emails of support from past and/or current students of these professors (students who did not work on the nominations)
    • Fourth, a committee of graduate faculty and GPSS representatives reviews the dossier for each professor and selects one to recommend to the Provost as the winner for this year.
    • Fifth, by the end of April, the Provost's Office notifies the winner and congratulates the other finalists on being nominated. At the May GPSS meeting, the winner’s name is announced to senators.
    • Lastly, the Margaret Ellen White Graduate Faculty Award is presented to the professor by the President of ISU at the university convocation the following September.(Many other awards are also given at this ceremony and celebration)



GPSS President