Nominations for the President’s Awards for Excellence in Student Activities are now open. The deadline for nominations is February 12th. The President’s Awards aim to recognise students whose extra-curricular activities have made UCD a more exciting and engaging place to study.

Both staff and students can nominate any current student who they believe makes a difference on campus. The nominations will then go on to a selection committee. On average, 15 students receive awards, which will be presented at the annual University Awards ceremony.

“There is no limit on the number of awards that may be made in any year although the number is usually kept to about 12-15; this limit ensures that awards are made only for noteworthy contributions to life in UCD,” says Paddy O’Flynn, director of UCD Consultative Forum. “The only restriction on the recipients is that awards are not normally made to students whose work on campus has been substantially remunerated by UCD.”

Unlike awards for excelling in sports or academics, recipients of these awards usually make their mark in campus societies, clubs or support services. Recipients of the award have usually shown their leadership, commitment and organisational skills. Many have shown strength against adversity. People who have competed for the university at inter-varsity or international levels are often recognised.

Honourees are also rewarded for making UCD a more humane place by volunteering with charities or supporting their peers. This could be as members of larger organisations, such as St. Vincent de Paul or Amnesty International, or working at university level, such as the UCD branch of the Please Talk campaign.

Student activists have been recognised for working for equality on campus, even at times when their activism has clashed with the administration. Previous awardees have worked for disability or LGBTQ+ rights, giving a voice to students that may have previously been marginalised. Martin Conway, currently a Fine Gael politician, was awarded in the 1990s for his work as a founding member of AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access and Disability).

Previous winners have had an impact far beyond the borders of the Belfield campus. This includes the journalist and activist Orla Tinsley, who has worked to improve cystic fibrosis awareness and healthcare services in Ireland.

Since the award’s inception in 1993, many of the 241 recipients of the award have gone on to have notable careers. Winners in the 1990s include broadcaster Ryan Tubridy and Dara O’Brian, who during his time at UCD was auditor of the L&H and co-founder of the University Observer. Irish rugby star Rob Kearney was given the award in 2009 while earning his economics degree. Other notable awardees include barrister Rossa Fanning, singer-song writer Paul Brady and Willie White, artistic director of the Dublin Theatre Festival. “In one year – the second year of the awards being made, awards were given to Dara O’Briain for his contribution to the L&H, to Willie White, later the CEO of the Project Theatre and of the Dublin Theatre Festival, for his work with Dramsoc, to Ryan Tubridy for his work in the History Society and to Pat Leahy of the Dublin Business Post, partly for his work in setting up this newspaper!” says O’Flynn. “That was a vintage year but every year there are winners who subsequently are seen to make their mark in the wider worlds of politics, the law, sports, journalism and social welfare. One of last year’s winners was Gary Ringrose who probably will soon be making the same kind of contribution to the Irish Rugby team as he did to the College team in 2015.

Nomination forms are available online and from the Forum Office, Students’ Union and Services desks. The name of the nominee and a short description of why this person should be nominated is all that is required. The student does not have to be notified that they are being nominated for the award. They should be marked ‘Student Awards’ and sent to “The Director, UCD Student Consultative Forum, UCD Student Centre.”