5 Tips for Strengthening Nomination Statements

Writing an effective statement or letter of support takes careful thought but can make a difference, to the nominee and to the awards adjudication committee members. Begin by identifying the nominee and stating how long and in what capacity you have known this person. Then explain what makes your nominee so exceptional.

  1. Know the award criteria.
    Read the award criteria carefully as they are the standards against which each nominee is evaluated. In your statement, make overt references to select criteria and explain how your nominee meets them. For instance, rather than simply stating “he cares for his students”, you might write something like: “His concern for us and his ability to motivate us was extraordinary. He had very high expectations but he also provided significant support for us. He knew some things took longer to learn, and he knew that some of us had less experience or were less confident coming into the course. It was his patience and the way he balanced his high expectations with support that enabled us to push past our fears to achieve creativity and growth.”

  2. Write from your perspective of the nominee.
    Bring your nominee to life by providing a first-person perspective and voice. The best statements are prepared by someone who is personally familiar with the nominee’s work and accomplishments and speaks from experience.

  3.  Give detail-rich information.
    Provide enough information and detail. For instance, if the nominee is inspiring, the statement should explain how or why. If the nominee affected one’s career path, it should explain how or why. If the nominee affected how one’s department structures its curriculum, it should explain how or why. Just saying “Professor X is great” is meaningless unless you explain that greatness, e.g., what it looks like, how it is demonstrated, and why it is meaningful.

  4. Be persuasive.
    Make a compelling case. Compelling statements are persuasive and make an impact on those who read them, sometimes by establishing credibility with facts and data; by describing an emotional experience; by indicating the magnitude, comparability or significance of an action; or by use of certain words for effect. For instance, you might document the challenges you faced before having the nominee as an instructor and state how both those challenges and your instructor’s intervention made you feel; or you might discuss how your nominee’s teaching style affected you as compared to other types of teaching you encountered.

  5. Use anecdotal stories.
    Use anecdotal stories to illustrate a nominee’s qualities and leave the committee with something to remember. Rather than simply stating that one’s nominee is “the greatest teacher of all time”, a more memorable statement would be something like: “She was the best teacher I had at UNCSA. Thanks to her knack for breaking down and explaining complex ideas and for making the material relevant to our actual lives, I learned so much in her classes. She wasn’t one to get so caught up in time constraints of the schedule to let that dictate her pace. Instead, she looked for signs of learning through our questions and discussions before moving ahead.”