Towner Prize Award

About the Award

We look forward to announcing the 2024 College of Engineering’s Richard and Eleanor Towner Prize for Outstanding GSIs in the spring of 2024. This award honors engineering GSIs who have demonstrated innovation and excellence in teaching. Up to four $1,500 awards will be granted. This is a separate award from the Rackham Outstanding GSI award. For information about Rackham’s Outstanding GSI Award click here.


All engineering graduate students who served as a GSI for an engineering course during the last academic year (i.e. Fall 2022, Winter 2023, and/or Spring/Summer 2023) are eligible. Former winners are not eligible.


GSIs selected for the Towner Prize must demonstrate the following:

  • creativity or innovation as an instructor,
  • excellence in teaching, and
  • remarkable dedication to student success.

Selection Process

Faculty and students may nominate a GSI who fits the criteria listed above. GSIs can also self-nominate. The application and selection process will involve two steps.

Step One: Outstanding engineering GSIs are nominated for this award. The nomination forms and student evaluations will be reviewed and finalists will be invited to submit full applications. Nominators must provide general information about the GSI and answer the three questions in detail. The strongest nominations provide detailed examples about the instructors’ creativity and innovation, their teaching excellence, and their dedication to student success. Teaching evaluations will be provided by the Office of Evaluations and Examinations and therefore need not be included with the nomination.

We are interested in receiving a diverse pool of nominees with respect to such factors as gender, race/ethnicity, and engineering discipline.

Step Two: Finalists will submit a 1-2 page narrative and other materials that document their innovative teaching practices including:

  • Cover page & GSI reflective statement
  • Letter of recommendation from the GSI’s supervising faculty member. Letter should address the 3 criteria and include supporting quotes from students (when possible)

Finalists will be judged by a selection committee composed of engineering faculty, graduate students, and staff from a variety of departments within the College of Engineering and the university community. Finalists will be chosen to represent the top applicants from across the college. The selection committee will make the final decision regarding the awardees.

2023-2024 Timing

September 15, 2023: Competition begins
October 13, 2023 (12:00pm): Nominations due
November 6, 2023: Finalists notified
December 1, 2023 (12:00pm): Final applications due
Spring 2024: Winners recognized at Leaders & Honors brunch

Questions should be directed to