GW Employees


Recognition is an important part of engagement and a way to show appreciation for your colleagues. From day-to-day recognition to formal recognition, letting others know the positive impact of their work is a great way to build relationships and provide feedback. Employee recognition also is a powerful way to develop and retain employees, enhance performance, and build university culture.

Mark your calendars for recognition related events like the OUR GW Festival and Career Milestone Awards.

Recognition Toolkit

The Recognition Toolkit provides ideas and resources to help you provide and promote meaningful recognition.

Recognition can be given in many ways: through saying thank you, giving praise, supporting flex-friendly schedules and more. Many studies on the workplace have shown that being recognized for specific achievements and knowing that overall contributions matter to colleagues and the organization all have a considerable impact on employee satisfaction, commitment, and motivation.

For more information about GW Recognition Programs, please contact us at [email protected].

Day-to-Day Recognition

By providing genuine, informal expressions of appreciation, day-to-day recognition has the greatest ability to impact employee performance. It is typically low- or no-cost, often intangible, and helps peers and managers communicate gratitude. These can include thank you notes, certificates that employees give to one another, and verbal praise.

Day-to-day recognition can create a great place to work by establishing higher levels of employee motivation, engagement, and retention throughout your immediate workplace and the university.

Employee Recognition Profile (PDF)

Not all employees like to be recognized in the same way. A good starting point is to have your staff complete the Employee Recognition Profile to learn more about how they like to be recognized for their good work.

The Power of “Thank You”

A simple “thank you” or “great job” can be one of the most meaningful forms of recognition, yet basic praise is often overlooked or too vague to be effective. Follow these straightforward steps to make sure that your praise is truly meaningful:

  • Thank the person by name.

  • Specifically state what they did that is being recognized. It is vital to be specific because it identifies and reinforces the desired behavior.

  • Explain how the behavior made you feel (assuming you felt some pride or respect for their accomplishment!).

  • Point out the value added to the team or organization by the behavior.

  • Thank the person again by name for their contribution.

Day-to-Day Recognition Ideas

  • Certificate of appreciation (PPT)

  • Hand written thank you cards

  • Submit a Positive Vibe

  • Personalized sticky notes

  • Recognition Print & Post Cards (PDF) - fun cut-out cards you can send to colleagues to express appreciation

  • Bring in breakfast (bagels, doughnuts, muffins, etc.)

  • Start staff meetings with recognition of recent tasks completed

  • Show you care about what's important to your employees

  • Send an email to your boss praising an employee (CC the employee)

  • Keep a recognition box in your office for all employees to recognize their co-workers for a job well done

Informal Recognition

Informal recognition focuses primarily on performance achievements, goal accomplishments, and other milestones by individuals or teams. It provides an atmosphere of continuous and spontaneous praising and rewards. It may occur monthly or quarterly and impact fewer employees than Day-to-Day recognition. The types of contributions that might be recognized in informal programs are:

  • Staying late to help someone prepare a presentation for the next day.

  • Volunteering to cover for a co-worker who is out sick.

  • Going out of your way to help boost morale or create a positive, inclusive work environment.

  • Exceeding expectations for a goal or milestone in a long-term collaborative project.

  • Implementing a business process improvement idea.

Employee Recognition Profile

Not all employees like to be recognized in the same way. A good starting point is to have your staff complete the Employee Recognition Profile (PDF) to learn more about how they like to be recognized for their good work.

On the Spot Recognition & Rewards

On the Spot Awards are delivered at the time of achievement. These acknowledgments provide praise for contributions when the desired behavior occurs. This type of recognition can be given to individuals, teams, or work groups. They may come in the form of candy, flowers, lunches, group events or outings, movie tickets, etc. These awards should not exceed a value of $100 per individual per year. Make sure you are familiar with the GW Policy on the Taxation of Gifts, Prizes and Awards to Employees (PDF).

Positive Vibes

Publicly thank, congratulate, or recognize a GW colleague on either a job well done or a special occasion. Positive Vibes peer to peer recognition can be used by employees and managers to recognize and appreciate each other. This is a great nonmaterial recognition vehicle.

Other Informal Recognition Ideas

There are many great no-cost and low-cost ways to give recognition. The Recognition Profile should be used to find out employees preferred ways to be recognized.

  • Write a letter/email of praise recognizing specific contributions and accomplishments. Send a copy to senior management and the employee’s personnel file.

  • Allow employees to leave early or take a long lunch.

  • Support “flex-friendly” schedules

  • If you have a department newsletter, publish a “kudos” column and ask for nominations throughout the department.

  • Encourage and recognize staff who pursue continuing education.

  • Establish a place to display memos, posters, photos, and so on to recognize progress towards goals and thank individual employees for their help.

  • Send handwritten thank-you cards to employees who go the extra mile. Optional: include a set of movie tickets or a chocolate bar (based on preferences).

  • Give Certificates of Appreciation or Recognition (PPT) highlighting what they did.

  • Hold informal retreats to foster communication and set goals.

  • Bake/bring a gift (cookies, bread, etc.) for an outstanding employee or team.

  • Encourage and allow employees to attend university events.

  • Plan a surprise achievement celebration for an employee or a group of employees.

Formal Recognition Programs

Formal recognition is different from informal and day-to-day recognition in that it is typically supported by a defined structure and process. GW’s formal recognition programs foster a sense of unity and promote institutional goals and values across departmental divisions.

Faculty, Staff, & Students

Multicultural Student Service Center - Martin Luther King Jr. Award

The MLK Award is the highest honor someone can achieve in recognition of service within the GW community. Students and staff member are recognized for their contributions to the GW and D.C. communities with the university’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Award.

Student Activity Center - Excellence in Student Life Awards

This recognition program is presented by the Dean of Student Consortium, Hallmark Events and honors individuals, student organizations, and university employees whose efforts have enhanced the university and student life at GW. Offices from across campus come together to present over 20 awards during GW's largest celebration of excellence. One of the awards is the Wall of Fame, which is dedicated to the men and women who, as students, staff, and faculty, provide leadership and service and contribute to the quality of student life at the university.

Faculty & Staff Only

OUR GW Festival

This HRMD-sponsored event recognizes all faculty and staff for their contributions to strengthening our academic excellence and making to make GW a great place to work.

GW Holiday Party

The GW Holiday Party is an opportunity for faculty and staff to come together and enjoy each other’s company while celebrating the holiday season. The holiday party is planned and executed by an all-volunteer committee. This committee plans the decorations, promotes the party, selects the menu, organizes the popular door prizes, and also organizes charitable initiatives such as the blood drive, Toys for Tots, Give a Gift, and the GW Faculty/Staff Campaign Fund.

Student Activity Center - Excellence in Student Life Awards Presented by DOS, Hallmark Programs

The Spark A Life Award is granted to a selected number of faculty and staff who have significantly impacted the holistic development of a student or registered student organization thus causing a “spark” of inspiration. Individuals eligible for this award are faculty, staff, and GPS Guides who have formed a positive mentoring relationship which has impacted the development of the student or registered student organization and the contributions they make to the GW and or Washington, DC communities.

Staff Only

Career Milestone Awards

The Career Milestone Award scheduled for December has been temporarily postponed.

The annual Career Milestones Celebration honors those who have achieved milestones (every five years of service at GW). Employees are notified of their milestone during the month in which it is achieved and are encouraged to choose a recognition gift.

In December, recipients from the past calendar year are invited to celebrate their milestones together. Employees celebrate milestones of 20 or more years are invited to a luncheon in their honor. Employees celebrating milestones of 5, 10, or 15 years are invited to a reception in their honor.

View a photo gallery from the 20+ year celebration on December 18, 2017 and a photo gallery from the 5, 10, 15 celebration on December 20, 2017.

For questions about this year's Career Milestones Celebration, please email us at [email protected].

Upon request, employees who achieve a Career Milestone (of 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, or 45 years) and retire before the occurrence of the Career Milestones event, will be eligible to receive their gift. To request a gift, please call Brenda Singletary at 202-994-6551.

Alumni Only

GW Development & Alumni Relations – Alumni Recognition Programs

The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award is the highest form of recognition given by the university and The George Washington Alumni Association to an alumnus/a on an annual basis. Each recipient has made a lasting impact on society though outstanding professional, voluntary, or philanthropic accomplishments.

The Alumni Outstanding Service Award is given to those alumni who advance the mission of the university through dedicated volunteer efforts in support of its programs, thereby ensuring the university's impact on our community and future generations of students.

The Jane Lingo Alumni Outstanding Service Award is awarded annually to a faculty or staff member who is also an alumnus/a of the university and who consistently advances the mission of the university through dedicated volunteer efforts in support of its programs, thereby ensuring the university's impact on our community and future generations of students.

Recognition Resources

These resources provide guidelines as well as ideas and materials for recognition.


Current Positive Vibes

Positive Vibes are a free and easy way to publicly thank, congratulate, or recognize a GW colleague on either a job well done or a special occasion! Submit a Positive Vibe today! 


Polly Dean

I would like to thank Polly Dean in Benefits for helping me with a complicated benefits change. She could not have given me better instructions, clearer answers, or faster replies. Thank you, Polly!

From Katherine, CCAS


Brian Binsley

This shout out is to Brian Binsley.  He is always willing to help a colleague out.  So this is really just one example.  Last week, I began experiencing VPN problems (self-induced I think).  I was close to giving up, but decided to plough ahead this morning.  Thanks to an assist from Brian, I was able to solve my VPN problem.

From John Sweeney

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Dai Wei Tsang

Diane has gone the extra mile to support ESIA faculty during the past 6 months. She tirelessly promotes our faculty and does so well to incorporate visiting scholars into the community. As interim Faculty affairs coordinator, she rolled with the punches as new  processes were introduced on the fly. She is invaluable to our work. Thank you!


Ryan Arey

Thanks for the time, personal attention, and deliberate effort you put into recruiting this summer. I'm sure COVID made things more challenging for you, but you rose to the occasion. Our summer numbers freaking rock! Thank you for contributing to such a strong summer, despite the big hurdles you faced. And thanks for doing it with a smile :)

From Sarah


Jovanni Mahonez

Thanks for creating a supportive space and system to make joining the GW Community easy and inviting. Your investments in your education, your work, and our staff are genuinely inspiring. Thanks for leading the way so well!!

From William  Brummett

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Marie Rudolph

Marie - Thanks for all the time, creative energy, and long hours you put into marketing this year. It certainly paid off this summer! I know it hasn't been easy - lots of opinions, new ideas, and then COVID hit.  But I think you've navigated the hurdles well and got our marketing/communications in a very good place. Thank you!

From Sarah


Vipul Patel

I would like to thank Polly Dean in Benefits for helping me with a complicated benefits change. She could not have given me better instructions, clearer answers, or faster replies. Thank you, Polly!

From Sri


Danny Parra

The Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) has an excellent Media Relation's Manager, Danny Parra. Danny always goes above and beyond the call of duty. He has really weathered the COVID crisis by providing an excellent series of webinars on politics and public affairs. Thanks Danny!

From Mag Gottlieb


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I've worked with you off and on for many years.  It's always a pleasure.  Thank you for your help with projects and production changes.  You are always available to answer questions and can get things done with lightening speed!!  Thank you!!

From Michelle


Bill Zeledon

Bill always always is available for help, updates and migrations. There'a not one single instance that he's ever said 'No'. Hes' trustworthy, knowledgeable and absolute fun to work with. Kudos to you for your patience and helping us always, especially code migrations. Thank You!!

From Anjana


Mark Trickett

Thank you for all your hard work and dedication on the webinars. I know it has been a lot on your plate this summer, but I really appreciate the energy you've put into this project.

From Cody "Overlord" House


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Michelle Lague


Thank you for all your hard work and energy you've put into the student engagement webinar. I really appreciate your dedication to this endeavor and I hope you know your passion and hard work doesn't go unnoticed.

From Cody




Maya Balabanska

A real life -saver! Thank you for helping me resolve my excel problem that allowed me to meet my deadline.

From Deborah Bernabeu


Dr. Matthew Dallek and Ms. Charlsie King

It is a pleasure to work with both of you on our online program on Washington politics. I feel blessed to have such wonderful colleagues! I look forward to the forthcoming cooperation with Charlsie on the program on the European Union. Your support and camaraderie are invaluable!

From Natalia Dinello

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Victoria Heithaus

Victoria is an all-star - in implementing Thrive GW, a program for incoming students, Victoria has been a force in devising a web page for the program and also in developing manuals, messages, and promotional materials. She deserves many positive vibes for her good and hard work!

From Andy Sonn


Julia & Emma

I am continually impressed by the results you produce! The SMHS Preaward office has prepared 60 high quality proposals for submission over the last 6 months. You always find a way to get it done. Great work, guys!

From Lydia Prentiss


Walter Brown

Your energy, enthusiasm and commitment to GW Athletics is infectious!  Thank you for all of your hard work.  Our coaches, staff and students all benefit from your work, and I am very grateful that you are a part of our department.  Thanks again, Walter!

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Ms. RamaPriya Mallepally

Ms. Mallepally, is hardworking, knowledgeable, talented. Possesses a deep core values, respects everyone.

From Vani Valluru


Wade Fletcher

Professor Fletcher did an awesome job organizing the bi-annual University Writing and Research Conference!

From Caroline Smith


Devika Sachdev

We appreciate your support and encouragement throughout the org. changes.  Thank you for believing in us!

From Joselynn

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David Rodriguez

David went above and beyond to help one of our trustees. He dropped everything to help and for that, we are so thankful!

From Jessica Fohr