The Simmons Chivukula Award for Academic Leadership is generously sponsored by a gift from Dr. Elizabeth H. Simmons (Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UC San Diego; former MSU Associate Provost for Faculty and Academic Staff Development and Dean of Lyman Briggs College) and Dr. R. Sekhar Chivukula (distinguished professor of Physics at UC San Diego, former MSU Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Undergraduate Studies).

The award is for exemplary work in academic leadership at the ranks of: department chair, school director, assistant dean, or associate dean (individuals must be currently holding one of these positions at the time of nomination). An individual will be selected annually on the basis of consistently demonstrated excellence in academic leadership, including the dimensions of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

An individual will be selected based on consistently demonstrated excellence in academic leadership in the following ways:

  • Demonstrates a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and fosters an inclusive and equitable environment within their unit
  • Treats others with tact, dignity, respect, and compassion
  • Empowers the success and development of others
  • Develops and communicates a clear vision for the unit
  • Operates from a premise of openness, honesty, and transparency
  • Displays awareness of own feelings, behaviors, values, and their potential impact on others
  • Exhibits humility, takes ownership of decisions and actions, and provides credit to others as appropriate
  • Develops networks, partnerships, and collaborations rather than operating primarily alone
  • Follows through on commitments, pays attention to detail
  • Is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement
  • Has served sufficient time in role to demonstrate transformative leadership

Nomination Process

Nominations packets are requested by Thursday, October 7, 2021, and should be submitted to: https://msu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5hwzIPdIBtYPDvw   The nominations may be submitted by faculty and academic staff, support staff, students, or individuals across these roles.  It is anticipated that the strongest packets will have broad, collective support.

Materials to submit

  • Letter of nomination (no more than three pages of text, signatures do not count toward page limit)
    • Letter should address the criteria mentioned above with specific examples to show how the candidate exemplifies transformative leadership. Examples should discuss both the cause and effect of a particular instance.
  • Candidate’s CV
  • Candidate’s essay on leadership as an MSU administrator, including their philosophy, accomplishments, and impact (no more than 2 pages)

Materials will be reviewed by a committee to create a short-list of candidates. Letters of support will then be requested from the supervisors of these individuals before a final decision is made. The recipient will receive a $2000 award and will be honored at the All-University Awards Ceremony in Spring 2022.

If you have any questions, please contact Cindi Leverich at youngcin@msu.edu.

2020-21 Recipient

The common themes that emerge regarding Dr. Alan Smith’s leadership are his vision, humility, the way he treats others with dignity, respect, and compassion, and how much he cares about the success and growth of others. Other remarkable qualities are Dr. Smith’s attention to detail, inclusion, openness, honesty, and transparency in decision making and his capacity to bring others together around a common purpose. These attributes and many more make Dr. Smith an excellent fit for the Simmons Chivukula Award for Academic Leadership.

Dr. Smith is the Chairperson for the Department of Kinesiology at Michigan State. In the department, he leads a significant undergraduate (≈1300) and graduate student enrollment (≈100), 18 tenure-stream and 4 fixed-term faculty, 4 support staff, and a large number of instructional staff composed of graduate teaching assistants and part-time instructors. This department represents a very diverse and highly complex unit.

Steadfast and even-handed in his support of department faculty, staff and students, Dr. Smith demonstrates his commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion by fostering an inclusive and equitable environment in student recruitment, faculty hiring, committee assignments, and workloads. Regularly consulting with faculty to assess and appreciate their needs, as well as the demands placed on them, Dr. Smith takes these factors into account when he allocates tasks and does so with the highest level of transparency. He never hesitates to seek counsel on various issues, an indicator of continuous learning and improvement.

Within the realm of empowerment, success, and development of others, Dr. Smith expanded faculty and student research productivity in the Kinesiology department. He achieved this by promoting and leading a culture of 100% faculty participation in submitting external grants. This led to increased resources for faculty research and a corresponding increase in research productivity.

Overall, Dr. Smith exceeds the criteria for the Simmons Chivukula Award for Academic Leadership. He is an inspiring advocate for the Kinesiology department within the College of Education, across the MSU community, and the greater field of Kinesiology. Dr. Smith is an exceptional leader with great vision, leading by example and inspiring others to succeed.

Contact Information

If you have questions, please contact Cindi Leverich in the AAN at youngcin@msu.edu.