Newly re-launched for 2020!

The Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) is pleased to announce the 2019-2020 MAGS Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education.  The award will be distributed to a MAGS member school in recognition of outstanding contributions in graduate education.

Purpose of the Award

The purpose of the award is to recognize and reward excellence and innovation in domestic and international graduate education at both the graduate school and program level.  Applications for the award should describe a completed project that relates to any facet of the graduate education process, including outreach, recruitment through selection and admission, retention, and degree attainment, for example:

  • Recruiting, retaining, and ensuring the success of underrepresented minority students in STEM graduate programs
  • Developing programs, policies and processes to help students cope with stress and mental health issues.
  • Designing innovative and creative pathways to student success
  • Providing a range of professional development opportunities to broaden the skill sets of graduate students
  • Programmatic efforts to improve student retention and completion
  • Employing technology to communicate with and attract prospective applicants in new and effective ways
  • Recruiting and ensuring the success of international students who seek an education at your institution

Only one application will be accepted from a given graduate school.  The internal institutional selection processes are the responsibility of the Dean of the Graduate School or comparable official.

Eligibility Requirements

This award recognizes specific excellence and innovation in graduate education, from admissions through degree completion.  Any current MAGS member institution or graduate program within a MAGS member institution is eligible for the award.

Specific Guidelines

  1. An applicant must be a member graduate school or a program at a member graduate school.  No more than one graduate program at a given institution is eligible to apply.  Application materials must include:
    • An application letter from the Graduate Dean or comparable official at the institution.  The letter should describe the pertinent graduate education innovation as well as the internal process used to select the award applicant.
    • A document (1000 – 2000 words) that describes the pertinent graduate education innovation and explains why it is significant. The document should also provide a description of the intended measures of success and provide data relevant to those metrics.
  2. All application materials must be sent to the Chair of the MAGS Award for Excellence and Innovation Committee, Dr. Devi Prasad Potluri at no later than January 25, 2020.  The subject line of the email message should be:  MAGS Award for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education.
  1. Selection will be based upon the following criteria:
    • The background or rationale for the problem that was addressed in the project is clearly articulated,
    • All steps involved and implemented in developing the strategies employed in the project are clearly stated,
    • Assessment methodologies and metrics used to measure the success of the program are clear,
    • There are appropriate systems in place to track student outcomes,
    • A plan for sustaining and institutionalizing proposed project initiatives is in place,
    • Institutional changes that are expected to result from the project are clearly stated,
    • Letter of endorsement from CAO, or Provost.Submissions will be reviewed by members of the MAGS Award for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education Committee.
  1. The 2019-20 MAGS Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education Awardee, first runner up and second runner up will be recognized at the MAGS 2020 Annual meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  1. Questions about the eligibility requirements or award guidelines should be directed to Dr. Devi Prasad Potluri, Chair of the MAGS Award for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education (

Past MAGS Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education Award Recipients

2016 – University of Kansas

Hall Center for the Humanities

“Applied Humanities”

This innovative program was selected because of its development of opportunities for graduate students in the humanities to explore career pathways outside of the traditional tenure track academic positions. This program includes a bootcamp, a series of panel discussions, networking opportunities and internships for its students. In addition, student outcomes are tracked during and after their degree programs, along with strong evaluation and review processes.

2015 (sponsored by ETS) – University of Minnesota

Henning Schroeder, Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education

“Resilient Communities Project (RCP)”

The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is a cross-disciplinary program that supports one-year partnerships between a selected community and the University of Minnesota. It offers an innovative collaborative model of community-university engagement, focused on building a long-term relationship with one partner community each year. The program goes beyond simply providing community projects for graduate and professional students and advanced undergraduates; it promotes the development of knowledge and innovation around community sustainability. Students participate in RCP by enrolling in an RCP-affiliated course, or through connecting an individual thesis, capstone, or independent study to a faculty-supervised RCP project. The program trains future practitioners, builds capacity among faculty to advance applied sustainability learning and engagement, and develops practical sustainability projects that can serve as models for other communities. RCP offers capacity related to water, energy, social equity, planning, design, recreation, management, economics, evaluations, and other topics that can complement local staff expertise as cities work toward becoming more sustainable and resilient communities. In its first two years, RCP partnered with two communities on over 30 projects, with over 45 course matches in dozens of academic departments from 11 colleges on two University of Minnesota campuses, and has engaged over 400 students to work on these projects. The collaboration among community staff, faculty and students results in on-the-ground impact and momentum for a community working toward a more sustainable and livable future.