2022 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award

The deadline has passed to submit nominations.

The K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award recognizes graduate students who show exemplary promise as future leaders of higher education and who are committed to academic innovation in the areas of equity, community engagement, and teaching and learning.

More information about the award and past recipients

The awards honor the work of K. Patricia Cross, Professor Emerita of Higher Education at the University of California–Berkeley. Throughout her career, Dr. 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.

Eligibility

All doctoral-seeking graduate students who are planning a career in higher education are eligible to be nominated, 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. Students must be nominated by a faculty member or administrator and must hold student status in January 2022.

Nominations must demonstrate the students’ exemplary promise as future leaders and their current commitments to equity, innovations in teaching and learning, and community engagement as integrated components of their graduate work. In general, nominees who are already senior-level leaders in higher education are not strong candidates for this award, as it is designed to recognize future leadership potential.

Nomination Materials

The following materials must be submitted for a nomination to 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

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, emails will be sent to

  • the graduate student/nominee;
  • the person submitting the letter of nomination; and
  • the person submitting the letter of support.

In each case, the email will contain a request link that will point to the portal where individuals may upload the required documents.

All nomination materials must be submitted electronically no later than 11:59 pm ET on September 30, 2021.

Nominations undergo a robust review process engaging past Cross Award winners and AAC&U staff in a multi-phase review process. Winners are selected based upon their demonstrated commitments to equity, innovations in teaching and learning, and community engagement as integrated components of their graduate work.

For more information, contact Kathryn Enke at 202.888.4647 or [email protected].

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Recipients of the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Awards are recognized at, and participate in, AAC&U’s Annual Meeting in January.

    The K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Awards provide financial support for graduate students to attend AAC&U’s Annual Meeting. All award recipients are required to attend the meeting.

    The awards include travel, lodging, conference registration, and a one-year affiliation with AAC&U, including a subscription to Liberal Education magazine.

    Each year, hundreds of laudable graduate students are nominated for the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award. As such, all finalists—including the winners—are inducted into the AAC&U Future Leaders Society and have access to an exclusive community designed to support on-going engagement, collaboration, and support.

  • 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, emails will be sent to

    • the graduate student/nominee;
    • the person submitting the letter of nomination; and
    • the person submitting the letter of support.

    In each case, the email will contain a request link that will point to the portal where individuals may upload the required documents.

    All nomination materials must be submitted electronically no later than 11:59 pm ET on September 30, 2021.

  • The award recognizes graduate students who show exemplary promise as future leaders of higher education and who are committed to academic innovation in the areas of equity, community engagement, and teaching and learning.

    Many graduate students are gifted researchers and active, supportive colleagues in their fields and on their campuses. Not all, however, prioritize equity, community engagement, and teaching and learning. Honoring the work of K. Patricia Cross, this award is for those who do.

    The award is designed to recognize future leadership potential. In general, nominees who are already senior-level leaders in higher education are not strong candidates for this award.

  • The experiences and accomplishments of each nominee will be different, of course, but the bios of past Cross Award winners reflect the work recognized by the Cross Award in other years.

  • The student statement should be one to two pages long. Supplementary materials—publications, course syllabi, additional letters, articles about your work—are not necessary and will not be part of the review process

  • Only the items requested will be passed along to reviewers. No supplementary materials— publications, course syllabi, additional letters, articles about your work—will be part of the review process.

  • Nominating/supporting letters should be no longer than two pages.

  • 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.

  • We understand that many graduate students are employed, including those with full-time positions on or off campus. Graduate students who maintain student status and have been making steady progress toward a terminal degree are eligible for this award.

    We applaud and appreciate the accomplishments of those now in academic positions. However, this award is intended 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. In general, nominees who are already senior-level leaders in higher education are not strong candidates for this award.

  • No. The award is presented at the Annual Meeting, and attendance is required.

  • Yes. AAC&U frequently gets multiple nominations from one institution and, at times, more than one from the same department.

  • 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.

  • Yes. Recipients of the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Awards must hold student status in January 2022. Students who graduate soon after that are eligible.

  • The Cross Award is not a scholarship and does not include a monetary award. It does support the costs associated with travel, lodging, and registration for the AAC&U 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.


  • For more information, contact Kathryn Enke at 202.888.4647 or [email protected].