Female Professor speaking while seated at a table with a female student sitting next to her.

How to Develop a Winning Dossier

Nominating one’s professor or colleague for a UVA teaching or public service award is not only a noble act, but one that redounds to the benefit of the department, as well as the individual. Anyone—faculty, student, or staff—may make a nomination. The nominee must be a salaried member of the faculty; faculty wage employees are not eligible.

To help the nominator create the strongest possible nomination dossier, the selection committee offers these recommendations: 

  1. Think ahead.
    Begin the process of choosing your nominee, communicating with them about their role in the process, and preparing the dossier early. This gives the nominee time to pull together various pieces of the packet and the letter writers time to properly observe the nominee’s teaching and provide strong evidence of teaching excellence.
  2. Organize.
    All nominations should be communicated to the dean, department chair, or direct supervisor, as appropriate, who will need to endorse the nomination and sign the nomination cover page. Because some schools and departments have nomination processes in place, it’s important to communicate your intentions early on to avoid disappointment. 
  3. Divide work.
    The nominee should not be asked to put their own nomination packet together. They should only be asked to provide their reflective teaching statement, abbreviated teaching-focused CV, course syllabi, and names of students and colleagues best qualified to write letters of support. The student evaluation data may be assembled by the nominee or the nominator with the help of the nominee. Whether several people are nominators or just one, they are responsible for the following:
    • writing the nomination letter.
    • soliciting letters from students, who can write concretely and persuasively about how the nominee supported their learning, creatively engaged them in and out of the classroom, and otherwise help them thrive in their class. 
    • soliciting letters from colleagues who have directly observed the nominee’s teaching and who are able to write concretely and persuasively about the nominee’s skill, passion, dedication, and creativity in teaching.
    • compiling all components of the nomination packet; overseeing the process, ensuring all nomination requirements are followed; collecting the nominee’s abbreviated CV, course syllabi, and reflective teaching statement; completing the cover page, including attaining the appropriate signatures; submitting the nomination packet online.
  4. Set the stage.
    The nomination letter sets the stage for the rest of the dossier. In addition to summarizing the nominee’s teaching strengths and talents, the most compelling letters make a clear, persuasive case for why the nominee is deserving of a University-level teaching award based on personal knowledge of the nominee’s teaching. The letter might highlight the nominee’s creative approaches to teaching, their exceptional efforts to improve on their craft, how the nominee’s teaching is distinguished from other colleagues, or how students thrive in the nominee’s courses.
  5. Adhere to requirements.
    Dossier requirements are in place to help the Awards Committee conduct an equitable selection process. Those that deviate from the requirements—e.g. exceeding page limits, supplying extra letters, providing additional student evaluation data, ignoring font and margin requirements, and so on—will not be accepted. Questions about the awards process or dossier materials should be addressed to Sherri Barker.