Campus leaders celebrated their accomplishments “MTV-style” Thursday night, as a fresh look accompanied the Student Activities Center’s 18th annual Excellence Awards.
A packed Marvin Center Grand Ballroom watched in anticipation as the University honored 13 student leaders, six organizations and one adviser for dedication to improving student life. Audience members also enjoyed performances from three nominated student organizations, sprinkled among award presentations.
Prizes recognized leaders in areas including community service, performance and sports. Laura Taddeucci Downs, director of SAC, said new additions to the night, such as a “GW Idol” video tape that showed how the University chose the evening’s host, added to the celebratory environment.
Narrowed from 15 nominees, six students accepted the University’s highest leadership honor, the Baer Award for Individual Excellence.
Shari Cooperman, Christina Fantizi, Aviva Flowerman, Bryan Gless, Brett Kaplan and Michelle Milberg picked up the golden hippo all winners received.
“For me, it wasn’t about getting the award as much as being nominated,” said Gless, this year’s Program Board Chair.
Recipients of the Baer Award had to demonstrate significant contributions to campus programs and services, as well as motivate and organize other students to achieve objectives that enhanced campus life.
Other honors bestowed included the $1,000 Joint Committee of Faculty and Students Scholarship for Leadership Development award to Jeff Consoletti, Katherine Esmark, Kathryn Guccione, Arun Jankiraman, Craig Limeberry, Anna Morozovsky and Blythe Purdin; the Marc Zambetti Memorial Award to Brett Kaplan; and Adviser of the Year award to Patrick Ledesma, who is also manager of the Hippodrome.
A panel of 10 faculty and staff members from different areas of the University chose all winners, excluding Emocapella – which won the Students’ Choice Award for Performance Group. No employees of SAC were on the panel, Downs said.
The evening honored the College Republicans, Muslim Student Association and the Out Crowd with the Pyramid Awards, which recognizes excellence in student organizations.
“We expanded beyond just a political organization to an organization that works on everything,” said Dan Moss, this year’s CR chair.
The Thurston Hall Jonathan Michael Rizzo Memorial Effort, started in memory of the GW student – who was murdered in July 2001 – took the Walter G. Bryte Jr. Award. The Bryte Award is given to an organization that shows community outreach and dedication to American and GW principles.
Community service group Kidfest received the Outstanding Community Service Project Award.
Preceding the awards ceremony, attendees gathered for about an hour in the Continental Ballroom for appetizers and drinks. Photographs and event flyers were on display.
-Jeff Baum contributed to this report.