University Economic Development Association

As you are probably aware, the 2013 Awards of Excellence are right around the corner.  We are currently accepting applications for Colleges and Universities to submit their leading edge initiatives to UEDA where members will vote on the winner.  All nominations are due by May 31, 2013 so be sure to get all of your materials ready and register today.

UEDA asked some of last year’s Awards of Excellence winners about their experience with the Awards. We talked to Lindsay Emery, the Business Development Manager at West Virginia University, and here is what she had to say about her university’s 2012 submission to the Awards and some words of encouragement for organizations considering submitting an application this year.

1. What aspects of your project, do you feel, made the difference in being selected as a finalist for the UEDA Awards of Excellence?

While this is speculation, I think that it helped that the application for WVU’s LIINC program was clear and concise, so as not to overwhelm the judges with too much information. We demonstrated that we could follow the application rubric, answer all of the questions, and identify best practices that aligned with the judging criteria (replicability, scalability, sustainability and originality) in a coherent manner. We didn’t oversell the program, but were honest about what the program had accomplished in such a short period of time. I like to think that framing the program in the context of the overall vision of the University and the State, paired with the program’s long-term goals, was attractive to the judges as well.

2. What is your advice to other universities who are considering entering this year’s UEDA Awards of Excellence?

The only cost for submission is your time. At the very least, preparing this application is a great learning experience for you and your program since it forces you to concisely explain why your program matters.

Working on a project every day sometimes has us lose sight of the direction we’re headed – and taking the time to articulate your enthusiasm and accomplishments is useful for your own purposes, but also for your institutional peers at UEDA that want to learn from your best practices. I still refer to my application when preparing other documents related to my program, such as one-pagers for university administrators.

Also, be honest, creative and engaging in your application. Anecdotes, examples, stories, and analogies are all extremely helpful for your audience (judges and Summit attendees) to better understand the elements of your program and its impact.

3. What was your experience like at the UEDA Annual Summit and Awards Banquet when your university was a finalist?

I am still amazed and humbled when I reminisce about the positive reactions my program received when I presented. People from other universities would come up to me, explain their situation, and ask me for feedback on how I made WVU’s program work, and how they might replicate that success. I never imagined my program would prompt such lively, inspiring discussions. Moreover, learning and listening about so many diverse programs from their enthusiastic teams was extremely educational as well – making it possible for WVU to pull ideas and best practices that may be applied to LIINC, as well as other economic development efforts on campus.

4. What kind of promotional and press coverage has your university received since being a winner of the 2012 Awards?

Aside from the immediate press coverage locally and internally at the university, the program’s award is incorporated into every press release. It is also highlighted on all materials at program events. But most importantly, the Award promoted the program’s success to groups on campus and external constituents, validated its quality, and confirmed sustainable funding and an additional hire from the WVU administration.