Margaret Ellen White Award


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 to recognize superior performance by a member of The Graduate Faculty each year at the University Awards Convocation held during the fall semester, with a prize for $2,500 and a plaque. The award recognizes the effectiveness of major professors who serve as mentors; 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.



  • Applications may only be submitted by students who are directly advised by the professor (i.e. this person must be your major professor/principal investigator, not a course instructor). 
    • Be sure that the nominee has advised/chaired at least six students so that they are eligible for further review. 
    • The nomination should include a robust list of current  and former students as references.
    • Students must submit the complete nomination packet to their GPSS Senator by December 1st 2020.
      • THEN: Senators will review the recieved nominations, and forward one application (representing their department) to the GPSS President by December 7th 2020.
  • Applications are reviewed by the Awards Committee of the GPSS (Chaired by the President).
  • The top 3-5 scoring applications are sent to the Graduate College.
  • A Graduate College committee reviews these forwarded applications and selects a winner.
  • The selected nominee is informed in April, and the award is formally recognized in the fall convocation ceremony. 


The Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) has the responsibility of providing nominations to the Dean of the Graduate College no later than February 1st each year. Each department is entitled to one nomination, which will be submitted by the GPSS senator(s) from that department. Should multiple nominations arise within the same department, the Senator(s) must review the applications and determine which one will move forward for further review. Should the Senator need assistance, they may reach out to the GPSS President for guidance. 


Departments with one Senator can perform that evaluation with their graduate department leadership. For departments with no GPSS representation, GPSS will accept nominations from any graduate student from those departments. In addition, the GPSS may nominate two others at large. Nominations will be collected and screened by the GPSS which will then forward the top nominations to the Dean of the Graduate College for further review.


Nominations are restricted to members of The Graduate Faculty who have chaired at least six graduate student committees at Iowa State University.


The Dean of the Graduate College appoints an evaluation panel of graduate faculty and 2 members of GPSS to select the successful awardee each year. The panel solicits endorsements from former and current graduate students of the nominees. The replies and other corroborative information will be used in the final decision.


The process of selection is generally completed by early April and the winner(s) notified by the end of April. The award is presented at The Fall University Awards Convocation.


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, but first talk with your GPSS senator, or if your department has no senators with the vice-president of GPSS. This is because the nominations must be submitted to GPSS through a department senator, and each senator is allowed only one nomination.

  2. Can I nominate several professors?

    No, only one, and even GPSS department senators can only support one nominee.

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

    You can ask the graduate secretary in your department or Charlene Shaw either can search the ISU computer system to find out how many student POS committees that professor has chaired, and get back to you with that information. We would need the professor's full name and the department they are affiliated with.

    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, and so committee members are looking for evidence that makes one person stand out from their peers.
  5. Could you explain the selection process for this award more clearly?

    • First in the fall semester, grad students complete nominations of professors and submit these through department senators to GPSS.
    • Second, a GPSS committee evaluates these nominations and forwards the top ones (up to 6) to the graduate college for further review.
    • Third, 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 notifies the winner, and also 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


Charlene Shaw (do not send nominations)
1137 Pearson Hall
Graduate College