CUPSA Awards

Cornell University Partners in Sustainability Awards (CUPSA)

The CUPSA program ended in 2020.  See Awards for current recognition opportunities.

The Cornell University Partners in Sustainability Awards (CUPSA) recognize individuals and teams who have exemplified the sustainability values of Cornell, made significant and notable contributions to the sustainable development and social equity of the Cornell campus, or displayed outstanding partnership for advancing sustainability within our campus and community.

Group of people holding awards

2018 CUPSA Award Winners
CUPSA Award winners are recognized during "Springfest", Cornell's Earth Day celebration.  Featured here are the 2018 Award Winners on Ho Plaza.

CUPSA Nominations

Nominate yourself and your team, or other outstanding members of the campus, and community for this prestigious campus award.  The CUPSA Awards have been recognizing campus sustainability leadership since 2012.  Award winners are recognized through campus celebrations and by senior staff. 

Awards are presented in three categories:

  • Individual Staff, Faculty, & Administrators

  • Group (Committee, Club, Office, Team, Unit)

  • Community Partner

Looking for student sustainability awards?

Here's how to submit a nomination:

  • Review the nomination criteria below to see what kinds of actions can be nominated, and the nomination categories. Try looking through summaries of past winners as well for a sense of what previous award winners have done to achieve this accolade!

  • Use the Nomination form above to submit your nomination

    • You'll need to provide your contact information, but you can choose to remain anonymous to the person you nominate

    • Self nominations are considered, and encouraged. You may the only person who knows about your contribution - tell us!

    • It is helpful, but not required, to provide information about the nominee or group such as what sustainability clubs, awards, or work they have done recently, or links that support your nomination.  If you don't have access to this, don't worry. 

    • If nominating a group or team, you'll need a single contact who would receive notification about their nomination.  Use a club's general email address, or choose a leader from the group for this purpose. 

Nomination Categories & Criteria for CUPSA

Nomination Categories 

Group of staff cheering for award winners
2017 Award Winners

Awards are presented in three categories: 

  • Individual Staff, Faculty, or Administrator - any current staff member in any college, unit, or administrative department, at any level
  • Group (Committee, Club, Office, Team, Unit) - broadly interpreted to cover any group of people working together on a sustainability project. May include student organizations, athletic teams, staff committees, working groups, an informal project team, class project team, formal project collaborators, etc.
  • Community Partner - any individual or group which works with Cornell University to support, accelerate, or advance shared regional sustainability goals and progress.

Students awards are presented during the Golden Gorge Awards in May.

Evaluation Criteria

CUPSA recognizes individuals and teams who have exemplified the sustainability values of Cornell, made significant and notable contributions to the sustainable development of the Cornell campus, or displayed outstanding partnership for advancing sustainability within our campus and community. Any project - big and small - should be considered.

Rather than looking only at the size or success of our undertakings, the CUPSA recognizes personal and team collaboration to address challenging issues - even when projects fail!  Nominations may focus on a specific project or action, or the scope of work undertaken by an individual or group. Nominations should describe how the individual or group has helped to advance or exemplify one or more of these areas:


The nominee has contributed to or improved the capacity of the Cornell campus community to work together, creating new connections and collaborations which spark and strengthen trust, community building, intersectional work, discovery, ideas, research, and real progress towards our climate and sustainability goals. Alternately, the nominee has helped to advance sustainability or climate goals shared by Cornell and the region, supporting solutions which benefit community members in our region and/or across New York State.


The nominee has contributed to academic or co-curricular education for climate and sustainability topics through the creation or advancement of classes, campaigns, and educational experiences that make the Cornell campus a "living laboratory" for sustainability. Education may have focused on students, faculty, or staff. Nominees are helping to prepare the generation of scholars, entrepreneurs, artists, and leaders and empowering campus community members to make informed sustainable decisions at work and home.

Campus Progress

The nominee has helped advance the Cornell campus as a model of sustainable operations and experience, including specific advancements in buildings, land, water, energy, food, waste, purchasing, people, climate, or transportation. Nominee may have successfully reached a climate action plan goal, reduced campus emissions, or improved performance in a specific area (or advanced knowledge towards a specific goal). Note that research or projects which attempted progress but failed are still useful, as they teach us how to improve and accelerate performance for future work!


The nominee walks the talk - displaying passion, pride, and innovation in sustainability thinking and practice. Sustainability change takes time and energy which the nominee is steadfast in presenting to the Cornell community. The nominee takes initiative to put sustainability at the forefront of projects and pursuits, and empowers others in their work unit or the University to do the same.

Additional Notes

  • Previous nominations can be resubmitted
  • A list of previous award winners can be found on this page in other tabs
  • Campus Sustainability Office full-time staff graciously decline nominations - we are here to empower and equip many leaders deserving of this recognition across campus. In lieu of nominations we will accept donations of cookies or puppies to the CSO office. (CSO-affiliated student staff can be nominated!)

Questions about CUPSA? Contact us: | 607.255.6375

  • 2019 Group Award: Laura Figueroa, Sustainability Fellow, and Jennifer Forbes, Director, Big Red Barn 
  • 2019 Group Award: Ecology House Residents & Staff
  • 2019 Individual Award: Taylor Thompson, Project Coordinator in Facilities & Campus Services
  • Group: Cornell Environmental Collaborative (ECO)2017 CUPSA award winners, photo by Jason Koski Environmental Justice Committee
  • Faculty: Bruce Monger, Senior Lecturer, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Staff: Julie Houston, Building Care, Savage Hall
  • Student: Elizabeth Chi '18
  • Student: Kate Bedding, STARS Coordinator
  • Community Partner: (formerly) Get Your GreenBack Tompkins

2014: Winners 2014 CUPSA


  • Student: Rebecca Macies ’14
  • Staff: Joan Manheim, Cornell Store
  • Staff: Erin Moore, Facilities Services
  • Student Group: Cornell Permaculture Club
  • Community: Building Bridges Initiative

2012: 2012 CUPSA Winners

  • Student: Mona Aditya '14
  • Student Group: CUSD
  • Community: Town of Caroline

Full List



Full List