Thomas Jefferson's photo, signature and residence

The University of Colorado Thomas Jefferson Award honors students, staff, and faculty members who advance the ideals of Thomas Jefferson.

These include:

  • broad interests in literature, arts and sciences, and public affairs;

  • a strong concern for the advancement of higher education;

  • a deeply seated sense of individual civic responsibility; and

  • a profound commitment to the welfare and rights of the individual.

Eligible nominees are full-time faculty*, students, or staff whose achievements reflect superior performance in their normal work or scholarship and notable participation in humanitarian activities.

*Full-time CU faculty with the rank of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, senior instructor, or instructor.

The award includes an engraved plaque and a $2,000 honorarium for each recipient.

Past Thomas Jefferson Award Recipients

Nomination Materials

The nomination packet is limited to 30 pages (not including résumé or cv) and must include the nominee’s current résumé and at least three to five supporting letters from multiple constituencies – e.g., colleagues; departmental, school/college, and campus leaders; and community leaders. Cover letters should address the award criteria, especially service performed outside of the normal course of the nominee’s duties. Nomination materials are reviewed by a selection committee composed of representatives of each campus. Self-nominations are not allowed.


The award was first established at the University of Virginia in 1951 by the Robert Earll McConnell Foundation to honor teaching faculty who exemplified the humanistic ideals associated with the country’s third president. By 1962, six other institutions had established a Jefferson Award, including the University of Colorado. In 1980, the University added a student category, and in 1988, the staff category was approved. Funds for the awards are derived from earnings on an endowment provided by the McConnell Foundation and from a bequest by Harrison Blair, a University of Colorado alumnus.

Nomination Submission

We are currently not accepting nominations for the Thomas Jefferson Award. Recipient(s) of the 2021-22 Thomas Jefferson Award will be notified by December 31, 2021.

Please contact Academic Affairs with questions regarding the Thomas Jefferson Award.