The 2020 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award

About the Award

The K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award recognizes graduate students who show exemplary promise as future leaders of higher education; who demonstrate a commitment to developing academic and civic responsibility in themselves and others; and whose work reflects a strong emphasis on teaching and learning. (Information about past recipients of the Cross Award is available here.)

The awards honor the work of K. Patricia Cross, Professor Emerita of Higher Education at the University of California-Berkeley. Throughout her career, Pat Cross helped the higher education community better understand our students, their characteristics, and their needs, and recognize what our responsibilities should be. Her ground-breaking scholarship paved the way for a legacy of work on age, socioeconomic class, gender, race, sexual orientation, and numerous other aspects of intersectional social identity.

Please see below for Frequently Asked Questions

All doctoral level graduate students who are planning a career in higher education are eligible, regardless of academic discipline. Graduate students in fields where the Master's degree is the terminal degree, such as the MFA in art, are also eligible. (Nominees must hold student status in January 2020.) 

Applicants must demonstrate:

  • Leadership ability or potential for exercising leadership in teaching and learning, with a strong commitment to academic and civic responsibility; and
  • Leadership or potential leadership in the development of others as leaders, scholars, and citizens.

Nomination Materials
A faculty member or administrator must nominate the student, with a supporting letter from a second faculty member or administrator. The following materials must be submitted for a nomination to be considered; only complete nominations will be considered:

  1. a nomination letter from a faculty member or administrator;
  2. a supporting letter from a second faculty member or administrator;
  3. a statement from the student indicating how he or she meets the award criteria;
  4. a copy of the student’s curriculum vitae.

All nomination materials—the letter of nomination, the letter of support, the student statement, and the student vitae—must be submitted no later than 11:59 pm on October 1, 2019

We encourage you to submit all materials together, if possible. If preferred, letters of nomination and/or support can be submitted separately.

New Online Submission Process for 2020

Each graduate student nominee—or an individual acting on her/his behalf—must complete the Cross Award nomination form to begin the online submission process.  When this form is submitted, three (3) three emails will be sent out:

  • The first email will be sent to the graduate student/nominee.
  • The second email will be sent to the person submitting the Letter of Nomination.
  • The third email will be sent to the person submitting the Letter of Support.

In each case, the email will contain a request link that will point to the portal in Box where the individual may upload one, two, three, or all four of the required documents.

The Award
The K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Awards provide financial support for graduate students to attend AAC&U’s Annual Meeting, which will be January 22-25, 2020, in Washington, DC.  All award recipients are required to attend the conference.

The awards include travel, lodging, conference registration, and a one-year affiliation with AAC&U, including subscriptions to all AAC&U periodicals. 

The awards are announced in December, and recipients of the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Awards will be recognized at, and will participate in, AAC&U’s  Annual Meeting in January 2020.

Contact Information:

If you have questions, please contact Jamie Krovontka at or call AAC&U at (202) 387-3760.


Deadline: 11:59 pm on October 1, 2019

Please complete this Nomination form to begin the submission process.


About K. Patricia Cross

K. Patricia Cross is Professor of Higher Education Emerita of the University of California at Berkeley, as well as an author of seven books on classroom teaching, learning, and assessment. Her distinguished career in higher education began as Assistant Dean of Women at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, then continued as Dean of Students at Cornell. She served as Distinguished Research Scientist at the Educational Testing Service; Professor and Chair of the Department of Administration, Planning, and Social Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and then as David Pierpont Gardner Professor of Education at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Cross is a member of the National Academy of Education and twice served as chair of the Board of the American Association for Higher Education.  She is a former board member for The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Berkeley Public Library, and Elderhostel (now known as Road Scholar).

Contact Information
For more information, contact Jamie Krovontka at 202.387.3760 or email

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there anything specific I should emphasize?
The award recognizes leadership ability (or potential) in teaching and learning.  Many graduate students are gifted researchers and active, supportive colleagues in their fields and on their campuses.  Not all, however, place teaching and learning as a priority.  The Cross Future Leader Awards are for those who do.

What type of activities would reflect my eligibility for the Cross Award?
The experiences and accomplishments of each nominee will be different, of course, but the bios of past Cross Scholars are here, which reflect the work recognized by the Cross Award other years.

How long should the student statement be?
The student statement should be one to two pages long.  Supplementary materials (copies of syllabi, articles about your work) are not necessary.

Can I send supplementary materials?
Only the items requested will be passed along to the Review Committees.  No supplementary materials—publications, course syllabi, additional letters, etc.—will be part of the review process.

How long should the nominating and supporting letters be?
We also suggest that nominating/supporting letters be no longer than two pages.

Does the nominating or supporting letter need to come from my advisor?
It is not a requirement that a letter comes from your advisor, but most times this is true.  The letters should come from individuals most familiar with your work as a graduate student and who can speak to your potential as a future leader of higher education. 

I have already taken an academic position, but continue to be a graduate student as I complete my degree.  Am I eligible?
We understand that many graduate students are employed, including those with full-time positions on or off campus.  If you have maintained your status as a graduate student and have been making steady progress on your degree, you are eligible for this award.

I have been in my current position for a number of years, but have returned to complete my degree.  Am I eligible?
We applaud and appreciate the accomplishments of those now in academic positions, but this award is to recognize graduate students who show promise as future leaders of higher education, not those already established in academe or those who have been away from their graduate studies for a significant period of time.

I cannot attend AAC&U’s Annual Meeting in January.  Am I still eligible?
No.  The award itself is attending the Annual Meeting, so that is a requirement.

Our department would like to nominate more than one graduate for the award.  Is that possible?
Yes. AAC&U frequently gets multiple nominations from one institution and, at times, more than one from the same department.

Can the letter of nomination and letter of support come from different institutions?
Yes.  It frequently happens that a graduate student is working with faculty members or administrators at multiple institutions, or that a supporting letter comes from a colleague or co-worker.

My graduate student will be graduating in March of 2020.  Can I still nominate her?
Yes.  Recipients of the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Awards must be a graduate student in January 2020.  Students who graduate soon after that are eligible.

I am applying for scholarships to help support my graduate degree.  Does the Cross Future Leaders Award include a financial award?
The Cross Award is not a scholarship and does not include a monetary award.  It does support a student’s travel to the Annual Meeting, but there is no other financial support. In addition, the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award is open to nominations only, and one cannot apply for it.

If you have other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.