President’s Impact Awards – Frequently Asked Questions

About the Award

  1. What is the President’s Impact Award (PIA)?
    • The University-wide President’s Impact Awards recognize and celebrate faculty members whose research has led to a significant impact beyond academia, including, for example, on society, culture, public policy or law, practices or services, education, the development of products, processes or services from inventions, the economy, health, a profession, the environment, quality of life, or through public engagement.
    • We encourage and welcome nominations of colleagues university-wide in the arts and humanities, life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences and professional disciplines, whose outstanding achievements may be recognized with this special University of Toronto honour.
    • The President’s Impact Awards are not lifetime achievement awards. They recognize demonstrable, sustained research impacts that may result from a single influential contribution or from an ongoing commitment to research translation.
  2. How many PIAs will be awarded annually?
    • Recognizing the breadth and depth of scholarship at the University of Toronto, it is expected that there will be more than one PIA awarded annually. The Selection Committee will seek over time to achieve a balance across disciplines and types of impact.
  3. Is the PIA a policy award? What is its relationship with the Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award?
    • Impact on public policy is only one of many types of research impact beyond academia that are eligible for the PIA. Please see the profiles of previous PIA laureates for examples of the diverse kinds of impact that the PIA recognizes.
    • The Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award is a separate award presented under the banner of the Awards of Excellence, an award program stewarded by Alumni Relations on behalf of the University of Toronto Alumni Association. Because both the PIA and the Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award honour research impact, the two awards are adjudicated by the same committee. PIA nominees may be considered for both awards, if their research impact is related to public policy.

Award Nominations

  1. Are the President’s Impact Awards (PIA) open to all faculty members of U of T?
    • Nominations are open to faculty members with full-time academic appointments and whose research has led to significant impact beyond academia. This includes tenure-stream, teaching-stream, and clinical faculty and status-only faculty with full-time academic appointments.
    • The primary focus of nominations should be on research impacts that have occurred while the nominee has held their appointment at the University of Toronto.
  2. Who can serve as a nominator?
    • Nominators may be a Department Chair, Academic Director, Vice- or Associate Dean Research, or Vice-Principal Research of the nominee’s academic unit as appropriate. As a rule nominators are one administrative level up from nominees.
      • For a multi-department division, the nominator would ideally be the Department Chair.
      • For a single-department faculty, the nominator would ideally be the Associate Dean of Research.
      • For hospital-affiliated faculty members, the nominator must still be a University of Toronto Department Chair, Academic Director, Vice- or Associate Dean Research, or Vice-Principal Research.
    • Nominators complete a two-page letter of nomination for the dossier as per the checklist. The nomination letter should emphasize how the nominee’s research accomplishments have resulted in a significant impact on society, focusing primarily on achievements that have occurred during the nominee’s tenure at the University of Toronto.
  3. Who can endorse a nomination and how is a nomination submitted?
    • To ensure that academic divisions are aware of nominations, all nominations are to be endorsed by a Faculty Dean, Principal, Vice-Principal Research, or Vice- or Associate Dean Research. There is no limit to the number of nominations endorsed by each division.
      • Endorsers should be one level up from nominators.
      • For a multi-department division, the endorser would ideally be the Vice-Dean or Vice-Principal Research. If the Vice-Dean or Vice-Principal Research is a nominator, then the Dean or Principal would be the endorser.
      • For a single-department Faculty, the endorser would ideally be the Dean.
    • A completed, signed endorsement form is submitted via the online form in pdf format.
  4. Should researchers be identifying themselves for this award or should Deans be identifying nominees?
    • It is up to the divisions to define their process. The expectation is that most divisions will implement an internal process for soliciting nominations.
  5. Are renominations permitted?
    • Unsuccessful nominations are eligible to be resubmitted for consideration in the year following their initial nomination. After this, the nominee must wait at least two years before resubmission. A renomination requires a new submission with updated nomination materials; revising the detailed description and providing updated letters of nomination and support are recommended.
  6. Are reference letters from outside the University of Toronto required?
    • Letters from outside the University are not required, but are strongly recommended, as such letters help to demonstrate the nominee’s impact beyond academia. Letters from individuals outside academia are particularly helpful to the selection committee in assessing impact.
  7. Can a nominee be awarded both the President’s Impact Award and the Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy awards?
    • Yes, the Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award may be awarded concurrently to one President’s Impact Award recipient who has made a significant impact on public policy.
    • The selection criteria for the Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award are as follows:
      • Academic excellence as a teacher and a scholar
      • Impact on public policy, whether at the municipal, provincial, national, or international level
      • The magnitude of the impact of the faculty member’s contributions to public policy and their contribution to the University’s national and international reputation
  8. Are any additional materials or letters of support required for consideration for the Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award?
    • No additional materials are required. The dossier and letters outlined in the Checklist serve for both awards.
  9. Are there size limitations for the nomination dossier?
    • The maximum length of the nomination dossier is 50 pages.
    • Page limitations for subsections of the nomination dossier are outlined in the Checklist.
  10. Are there guidelines for shortening CVs to adhere to the 50-page limit?
    • The CV should highlight the most relevant information possible about research and research impact. If necessary, it is permissible to indicate that the CV has been shortened and a link to a full CV online may be included.
  11. Are there limitations on the three attachments?
    • Attachments should not exceed two pages each.
    • Please do not include copies of publications or patents as attachments.
    • A link to a website counts as one attachment.
  12. Are paper copies required in addition to the online nomination?
    • Only online submissions will be accepted.
    • The nomination dossier is uploaded as one pdf document.
  13. Can an electronic signature be inserted into the endorsement form?
    • You can add an electronic signature to the endorsement form by using the Adobe Acrobat “Fill & Sign Tools”.
  14. Can I exit the online nomination form without losing my work?
    • When you click on “Save and Continue Later” you will be provided with a link which allows you to return to your form in progress. This link can be forwarded should multiple people need to work on the form.

About the President’s Impact Academy

  1. What is the purpose of the Academy?
    • The President’s Impact Academy will meet to discuss matters relevant to research impact, offer advice to the Vice President, Research & Innovation, and function as advocates for sustained excellence in research and innovation impact within and outside of the University.
    • Members of the President’s Impact Academy will also be invited to participate in a range of university activities to increase the University’s profile in the impact of the research of its community.
  2. How long do PIA recipients serve as members of the Academy?
    • Recipients of a University of Toronto President’s Impact Award are also designated by the University as a member of the President’s Impact Academy for a minimum period of five years; those wishing to continue participation in the Academy (without receiving an annual award) after this term may elect to do so.


  1. What are the selection criteria for the PIA?
    • The nominations will be evaluated according to three broad criteria:
      • Demonstrated, sustained impact(s) of research beyond academia
      • Benefits of the nominee’s achievements to society
      • Originality, scope and/or uniqueness of research impact(s)
  2. How are the Selection Committee members assembled?
    • By invitation from the Vice-President, Research & Innovation.
    • The Selection Committee shall be composed of up to six internal University of Toronto members, one alumna/alumnus, and one or two member(s) from other institutions. The membership of the Committee shall be made up of distinguished researchers and practitioners and shall be as broadly-based and diverse as possible.
    • Past President’s Impact Awardees may be invited to serve as internal review committee members.
    • The Committee will be expected to reinforce standards of rigor, fairness, respect and equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the process.

Further information

Enquiries regarding the U of T President’s Impact Award should be directed to Sarah Carson, Manager, University Awards & Honours, Office of the Vice President, Research & Innovation at or 416-978-7905.

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