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Excellence in Education Award

Established in 1983, the Excellence in Education Award is presented to an individual - member or non-member - who has improved the field of education and/or the way students are served.

NACAC President Stefanie D. Niles announced at the 2019 National Conference that the Excellence in Education award would be renamed the Joyce E. Smith Excellence in Education award in honor of the retiring CEO, starting in 2020.

Below are several (but not all) of the criteria that the Governance and Nominating Committee uses when nominating an award recipient for the Excellence in Education Award.

  • Prominence: national figure in political or education arena; great influence over public opinion in matters related to education
  • Advocacy and Access: in their career, has been at the forefront of initiatives advocating for students and access to education

About the 2019 Award Winner:

2019 Excellence in Education AwardNACAC CEO Joyce E. Smith, who will retire in 2020, is the association’s longest-serving chief executive and the first African American woman to serve in the position. During her 22 years at the helm, the association’s membership more than doubled in size and NACAC’s flagship National College Fairs program grew to serve hundreds of thousands of students annually in 95 cities in the US and Canada. In addition, under Smith’s leadership several practices designed to protect students in the college admission process were formalized and NACAC gained national prominence and recognition for its research, government relations work, global engagement efforts, and education and training opportunities.

Previous Award Winners:

  • 2018 - The ACCEPT Facebook group (Founded by Marie Bigham, Steve Frappier, and Brandi Smith)
  • 2017 - William R. Fitzsimmons and Carmen Lopez
  • 2016- Stacy Lightfoot
  • 2015 -  Dr. Trish Hatch, Dr. Sandy Savitz-Romer, Campus Pride and Shane Windmeyer
  • 2014 - First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama
  • 2013 - Nicole Farmer Hurd and Ted O'Neill
  • 2012 - Greg Darnieder  
  • 2011 - Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
  • 2010 - Steve Peifer
  • 2009 - Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
  • 2008 - Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)  
  • 2007 - Loren Pope
  • 2006 - Hugh O'Brian
  • 2005 - Irving Fradkin
  • 2004 - Rep. David Obey (D-WI)
  • 2002 - Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-OH), Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), and Rep. Betty McCullum (D-MN)
  • 2001 - Lee C. Bollinger
  • 2000 - Richard Riley
  • 1999 - William G. Bowen and Derek Bok
  • 1998 - Tom Joyner
  • 1997 - Dr. Benjamin Carson   
  • 1996 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz     
  • 1995 - David L. Boren
  • 1994 - Eugene Lang
  • 1993 - Arnold Mitchem    
  • 1992 - Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-WI) and Sen. Thomas Sawyer (D-OH)
  • 1991 - Theodore Sizer  
  • 1990 - Augustus F. Hawkins
  • 1989 - Harold L. Hodgkinson  
  • 1988 - Oluf Davidsen and George Hanford  
  • 1987 - Ernest L. Boyer
  • 1986 - William D. Ford, Samuel L. Meyers and Paul Simon  
  • 1985 - Alexander W. Astin    
  • 1984 - Fred Hargadon  
  • 1983 - Francis Keppel

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