Thunderbird Awards

Thunderbird Awards

The Thunderbird Awards have been a campus tradition at Southern Utah University since 1950. This formal event recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of students, faculty, staff, and community members.

The 2020 Thunderbird Awards Ceremony will be held on Saturday, April 18th. During the ceremony, we will be highlighting our outstanding finalist for each category and announcing the 2020 Thunderbird Awards Winners.

Directly following the ceremony, the Thunderbird Ball after-party will take place with light refreshments and live entertainment.


Award Descriptions

Achievement of the Year Award

This award goes to the achievement that has brought recognition to the University on a state, national, or international level during the previous year. This award is open to all students, organizations, faculty or staff.

Advisor of the Year Award

The award for Advisor of the Year recognizes faculty and staff members who advise student clubs and organizations. By supporting the personal and professional development of their students, advisors contribute to the mission, vision, and purpose of the University. They also provide their organizations with a foundation of continuity and consistency that allow their organizations to improve and grow from year to year.

R. Kenneth Benson Award

Recipients of the R. Kenneth Benson Award have excelled academically; maintaining a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.6. They have also shown outstanding leadership ability and dedicated themselves to serving the University and the community. This is the most prestigious and distinguished award given to a male student at Southern Utah University.

Sterling R. Church Student Involvement Award

The Student Involvement Award is given to a remarkable student who has shown extraordinary commitment within one specific organization, club, or department at SUU. His/her contributions within the specific area were not only visible to those within their organization, but to the campus as a whole. The student has gone above and beyond their call of duty. This category is not open to current members of any branch of SUUSA government.

Commitment to Excellence Award

Established in 1995, the Commitment to Excellence Award honors the selfless service rendered by a caring and committed staff member at Southern Utah University. Often, these contributions are overshadowed or taken for granted because they are common and routine. However, past recipients of the award have shown how these daily endeavors become the very essence of our community’s character and excellence.

Female Contributor of the Year Award

The award for Female Contributor of the Year is an accolade given to a woman who has sought to improve the educational and social experiences of their friends and colleagues. To accomplish this aim, the nominees have participated in a variety of student clubs and organizations, rendered numerous hours of campus and community service, and have become leaders in the process. These women possess the motivation, discipline, and selflessness necessary to create opportunities for others; their engagement and involvement benefit the entire campus community.

Male Contributor of the Year Award

The award for Male Contributor of the Year is an accolade given to a man who has sought to improve the educational and social experiences of their friends and peers. To accomplish this aim, the finalists have participated in a variety of student clubs and organizations, rendered numerous hours of campus and community service, and have become leaders in the process. These men possess the motivation, discipline, and selflessness necessary to create opportunities for others; the contributions that result from their engagement and involvement benefit the entire campus community.

Organization of the Year Award

Successful and effective organizations consistently contribute to the improvement and well-being of their members while also enhancing the educational experience of students at Southern Utah University. Through meaningful campus involvement and considerable community service, the Organization of the Year is a leader among the University’s numerous student clubs and organizations.

Performer of the Year Award

Given to students devoted to perfecting an artistic craft, the Performer of the Year salutes aspiring dancers, actors, musicians, vocalists or students who simply enjoy performing. Finalists for the award routinely appear before diverse audiences and serve as ambassadors for the University while showcasing their creativity, talent, and poise.

Personality of the Year Award

The Award for Personality of the Year celebrates those campus characters that are remarkably funny, uncommonly kind, and a little quirky. These unique students make campus life exciting and fun, and they use their enthusiasm, optimism, and humor to lighten a situation or encourage a friend with a simple smile and impeccable timing.

Professor of the Year Award

University faculty members are expected to serve the campus in many different ways. Aside from their responsibility to provide thought-provoking instruction, professors are also engaged in researching, writing, advising, mentoring, and helping the University function through a host of other assignments. The Award for Professor of the Year is devoted to faculty members who seem to balance these competing roles with relative ease while consistently inspiring their students with an innovative and challenging curriculum.

Georgia Beth Thompson Service Award

The Service Award recognizes that student or student organization whose volunteer service has had a significant impact on Southern Utah University and the local community. This student or organization has exhibited a high level of commitment to volunteerism and civic engagement.

Elaine C. Southwick Award

Recipients of the Elaine C. Southwick Award have excelled academically; maintaining a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.6. They have also shown outstanding leadership ability and dedicated themselves to serving the University and the community. This is the most prestigious and distinguished award given to a female student at Southern Utah University.

Scholar of the Year Award

The Scholar of the Year Award recognizes exceptional academic achievement. The finalists are considered the “top” students in their respective college or school. They are selected by the SUU Dean’s Council based on their cumulative GPA.

SUUSA President's Award

At the close of his or her term of office, the Southern Utah University Student Association President may select member of campus community to receive the award for his or her advocacy of students and student driven initiatives. As a member and example, the recipient of the award has sought to empower students and student leaders by establishing challenging goals and achieving them through persistent action and sustained support.

Gerald R. Sherratt Distinguished Service Award

From 1982 to 1997, Dr. Gerald R. Sherratt served as the President of Southern Utah University. In fact, President Sherratt’s powerful influence was essential in achieving University status for, then, Southern Utah State college. His tireless efforts, infections enthusiasm, and resourceful leadership enabled the University to undertake incredible capital campaigns resulting in the construction of ten major buildings including the Centrum (now known as the America First Event Center) the Sharwan Smith Student Center, the Science Building, and the Library which bears his name. Aside from these monumental achievements, he presided over a period of unprecedented growth and institutional improvement that placed SUU on a trajectory for future success.

Rather than retreat into retirement, President Sherratt trained his talents and attention on improving the community in which he was raised. Elected as Mayor of Cedar City in 2001, Dr. Sherratt continued to provide visionary leadership. During his tenure, Major Sherratt developed a number of community festivals, sought to improve the business climate, and raise the profile of Cedar City as a tourist and retirement destination. Indeed Sherratt’s legacy of relentless service to campus community is unparalleled and renowned. Therefore, it is altogether fitting that we recognize and honor a member of the local community who, like Dr. Sherratt, has cultivated a distinguished record of service to SUU and the community.

Carmen Rose Hepworth Award

Carmen Rose Hepworth, a native of Delta, Utah, was a 1953 graduate of Southern Utah University. She taught in the Iron County School District, was also an active member of the SUU Alumni Association, and provided valuable service to the University and the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Her husband MEl, a 1950 alumnus, was also a teacher and later a principal. The Hepworths did not have children of their own, but they influenced the lives of hundreds of hundreds of students by serving as strong role models and loving mentors.

Carmen had the unique ability of knowing how to get the most out of her young students. She encouraged excellence and taught her student to do more than was expected, both in academics and their personal lives.

In memory of Carmen Hepworth, this award is presented by the Alumni Relations Office to those who demonstrate commitment to bettering the lives of others and strengthening Southern Utah University.

Athlete of the Year Award

The award for Athlete of the Year honors men and women who have demonstrated exceptional athletic ability, commitment to their teammates, and authentic sportsmanship while representing Southern Utah University in intercollegiate athletic competitions. Although highly dedication to their sport, these men and women also excel academically and define what it means to be a student athlete at Southern Utah University.