Nominations being accepted for RIT public service award

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The Four Presidents Distinguished Public Service Award was created by Alfred Davis to honor the four presidents he worked with that held public service as a priority during their time at RIT�Mark Ellingson, Paul Miller, M. Richard Rose and Albert Simone.

A new streamlined nomination process makes it easier to apply for the Four Presidents Distinguished Public Service Award this year.

The award, which recognizes exemplary public service by a current member of the faculty or staff, was created by Alfred Davis to honor the four presidents he worked with that held public service as a priority during their time at RIT—Mark Ellingson, Paul Miller, M. Richard Rose and Albert Simone.

The committee is accepting nominations until Thursday, Nov. 30. The award will be presented on Thursday, April 12, 2018.

Cindee Gray, assistant vice president of RIT and Rochester Regional Health Alliance, received this award in 2016 and is now a member of the committee selecting this year’s recipient.

“The award shows RIT’s legacy of being involved in the community on and off-campus and reminds us that giving back is just as important to the university today as it was for these presidents,” said Gray.

The award recognizes service over and above an individual’s regular institutional responsibilities by participating in organizations not affiliated with his or her professional job at RIT. A person’s service should provide a benefit beyond the university and have a significant impact on the Rochester community and beyond, as evidenced by the following:

  • Evidence of extensive and diverse public service
  • Evidence that the individual is an important and participating member of the organization(s) served
  • Service as a board member or in a leadership role (e.g. president, etc.), and/or extensive service at the grassroots level
  • A sustained commitment and service to at least one organization over an extended period of time

In addition to receiving a certificate, the award allows recipients to give back to the community. A check of $2,500 is awarded to the recipient to disperse to community-outreach and charity organizations they support.

Sarah Brownell ’98 (mechanical engineering) received this award in 2015 and used her monetary award to help organizations she had worked with, including the House of Mercy in Rochester that helps people who are homeless, and Friends of Borgne, a program in Haiti aimed at improving access to education for Haitian youth in the town of Borgne.

In addition to teaching classes at RIT, Brownell has done extensive work in Haiti, and the majority of the money she was given was donated to the Haitian Pen Ak Pwason program. Supported by St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality, this program provides 100 elderly and disabled individuals in Borgne with food two times a week.

“This program was dying when I won the award, and we were able to save the program because of it,” said Brownell. “I was very thankful for that.”

Brownell encourages students and faculty to get involved in social impact work and hopes awards and recognitions like this inspire more people to take action.

“This award made me feel like my work was valued. It’s nice to get recognized for efforts you make to help people,” said Brownell. “Everyone can contribute, and we make a big difference if we connect the university to the community we are in and communities around the world.”

Nominating someone for the award this year is as easy as filling out an online application with their name, position, contact information and a brief explanation of how that individual meets the criteria for the award. Once committee members receive this information, they will reach out to the nominee for supporting documentation about their service work.

The online nomination form can be found at