The Tom Cooper Spirit of Emerson Award is given annually to individuals or groups who have exemplified the Spirit of Emerson College during the past academic year or longer, as determined by the Tom Cooper Spirit of Emerson Award Committee. The winner receives $400 (less if the award is shared). 

Nominations, Eligibility, and Deadline

Nominations will be accepted from any member of the Emerson community, including self-nominations. Anyone may make multiple nominations. Community members (students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni and Alumni Board of Directors, parents, Trustees, and Overseers) who have been part of the Emerson community for at least one year are eligible as is any group composed of eligible individuals.

Nominations for the 2024 Spirit of Emerson Award are due by Wednesday, January 31, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.


The recipients of the annual award must succeed, if not lead, in at least three of the following ten criteria:

  1. Advancing Emerson’s mission, including the college’s five strategic objectives
  2. Building morale within the Emerson community
  3. Creating pro-social/humanistic accomplishment at Emerson
  4. Increasing “school spirit”
  5. Making substantial contributions to advancing social justice, inclusiveness, and diversity
  6. Unconditional giving to Emerson
  7. Increasing Emerson’s positive visibility in the world or Boston community
  8. Actively acknowledging others who amplify the spirit of Emerson
  9. Radiance
  10. Making Emerson a “better place,” however the committee interprets those words

Committee Members and Chair

The Committee consists of at least seven members drawn from the following groups within the community and from any other groups that the Spirit of Emerson leaders believe would add balance and fairness to the Committee. All members of the committee must have been members of the Emerson community for at least two years. If there is a tie vote for selecting a Tom Cooper Spirit of Emerson Award winner, the chair’s vote will break the tie. Committee members may serve two-year terms, renewable for one additional two-year term.

Ideally, the Committee will include representatives chosen as follows:

  • Chair: A noted “spirit leader” in the community including past recipients of the award appointed by leaders of Spirit of Emerson (ex officio members of committee)
  • One member of the current faculty as selected or elected by Faculty Assembly
  • One member of Emerson’s alumni as selected or elected via Alumni Affairs
  • One current undergraduate student as elected or selected by SGA
  • One current graduate student as elected or selected by the Graduate Student Council
  • The College President or his/her designees
  • One representative from the Social Justice Collaborative
  • One representative from Emerson College’s staff
  • One previous winner of the Tom Cooper Spirit of Emerson Award
  • Ex officio (non-voting)–To answer the committee’s process questions, one of the ex officio members may attend the opening and other meeting(s) as needed except when nominees are being discussed or votes are being taken.
    Neither the active members nor the ex officio members of the committee will be eligible to receive the award while they are committee members.

Submit a Nomination 

2023–2024 Committee

Committee Members

  • Jehan Ayesha
  • Maureen Hurley
  • Drew Genova
  • Jacqueline Holland
  • Lilly Meehan-Egan
  • Jennifer Rogers
  • Sharon Duffy

Tom Cooper Spirit of Emerson Award Committee Administrator

  • Jessica Gomez, Coordinator, Undergraduate, Creative Writing/ BFA
  • Stan Nance, Chair, Staff Representative

Ex Officio

  • Heather May, Ex Oficio faculty member


Tom Cooper, Faculty, Professor of Visual & Media Arts