University Administrative Policies


UNM_Policy_Office-L communicates important policy announcements (such as policy approvals, revisions, or campus review-and-comment periods).

UNM Policy Office

MSC05 3357
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Physical Location:
Scholes Hall
114 A and B

Phone: (505) 277-2069

Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual - Policy 3235: Staff Recognition Programs

Date Originally Issued: 07-01-2002
Revised: 08-01-2006, 02-09-2009, 04-29-2009, 01-01-2012

Authorized by RPM 6.3 ("Privileges and Benefits")
Process Owner:  Vice President for Human Resources

1. General

Staff members play a valuable role in the University's success; therefore, the University is committed to recognizing and rewarding staff members who demonstrate creativity and provide exceptional contributions to the University's teaching, research, and service mission. Recognition programs may be informal or formal, providing personal acknowledgment in a manner commensurate with the achievement. Recognition programs may include awards that are granted for significant non-recurring tasks or accomplishments. These awards are aside from the performance review process and allow for recognition of exceptional individual or group performance throughout the year.

2. Roles and Responsibilities

2.1. Vice Presidents, Deans, and Directors

Vice presidents, deans, and directors play a critical role in supporting the University's commitment to recognition programs, and shall: 

  • ensure promotion and funding for college, division, school, and departmental recognition programs for their respective areas;
  • define which units/departments are eligible to participate in applicable programs to ensure opportunities for all employees in their respective areas; and
  • review, approve, and monitor recognition programs for their respective areas in accordance with this policy.

2.2. Managers and Supervisors

Managers and supervisors are responsible for informally and formally recognizing exceptional contributions by staff members, and implementing and managing recognition programs for their respective areas. Each manager or supervisor shall:

  • consult with their staff in the development and implementation of departmental recognition programs;
  • nominate staff members and encourage staff to nominate coworkers and colleagues who exemplify the value/achievement criteria of the respective programs; and
  • ensure staff members selected for recognition receive appropriate public recognition for their accomplishments.

2.3. Staff Members

Staff members provide the talent and expertise for the development and success of recognition programs. Staff members shall:

  • work with managers and supervisors to develop recognition programs; and
  • nominate coworkers and colleagues who exemplify the value/achievement criteria of the respective programs.

3. Recognition Programs

There are various ways to recognize staff members for their achievements, including informal recognition, formal recognition, and/or awards. Depending on the nature of an award, the value of the award could result in taxable income as described in Section 5. herein. The University Payroll Department can provide information on income tax reporting and withholding requirements.

3.1. Informal Recognition

The University recognizes that informal recognition is an important aspect of recognition and encourages personal acknowledgment of individual accomplishments and contributions. Personal acknowledgments can take many forms such as notes, cards, email, formal memorandums, and certificates of appreciation. These can come directly from colleagues, customers, supervisors, managers, chairs, deans or directors, vice presidents, or the President. Informal recognition programs do not require the approvals listed below in Section 3.2.

3.2. Formal Recognition

Formal recognition programs are intended to recognize staff members who demonstrate an extraordinary achievement in one (1) or more of the following areas:

  • provide extraordinary service to the University or community;
  • exemplify University values in an exceptional manner;
  • submit suggestions that result in innovative solutions to University-wide challenges; or
  • contribute substantially to significant team accomplishments.

To ensure the appropriate use of public funds, consistency, and fairness this policy establishes guidelines for recognition programs that include awards. Recognition may be either non-monetary or monetary, must comply with University policies and procedures, and be commensurate with the achievement. The programs can be University-wide recognition programs or programs designed by colleges, divisions, schools, or departments.

3.2.1. University-Wide Recognition Programs

University-wide recognition is awarded on an annual basis. Recognition ceremonies are designed to celebrate achievements and provide public recognition at a level commensurate with the achievements required to receive such awards. University-wide programs must be approved by the President and include, but are not limited to:

  • Regents' Meritorious Award --This award honors a staff or faculty member(s) who has provided extraordinary and distinguished service to the University as demonstrated by outstanding teaching, service to students, research, scholarship, publications, performance in faculty and University governance, or other such contributions which have enhanced the University.
  • Gerald W. May Staff Recognition Award --This award honors three (3) to five (5) staff members who demonstrate exceptional commitment, initiative, and innovation in service to the University.
  • Extraordinary Service--This award honors staff members who have demonstrated extraordinary dedication and innovation.
  • University/Community Service--This award recognizes staff members who donate considerable personal time and effort contributing to the University's public service mission.
  • Diversity--This award honors staff members who have significantly promoted diversity on campus.
  • Team Award--This award honors groups and teams for exceptional service in suggesting and/or creating change that results in innovative solutions to University-wide challenges.

3.2.2. College, Division, School, and Departmental Recognition Programs

In addition to the University-wide recognition programs, schools, colleges, divisions, and departments should develop recognition programs intended to recognize staff members who provide extraordinary achievement in their respective areas. To ensure staff members have a reasonable opportunity to be recognized, colleges, divisions, schools, and departments should develop an adequate number of recognition programs.

Proposals for recognition programs that include a monetary or non-monetary award must be submitted to the appropriate vice president for approval. A proposal template is available on the Division of Human Resources website. 

3.2.3. Recognition Program Awards

Awards shall be commensurate with the contribution being recognized. Non-Monetary Awards

Examples of allowable non-monetary awards that recognition programs might fund include:

  • reserved parking spaces;
  • certificates, plaques, and trophies;
  • gift items;
  • lunches or dinners;
  • professional association memberships;
  • conference opportunities;
  • recreational services;
  • tickets to University events; and
  • personal enrichment courses from UNM Continuing Education. Monetary Awards

A monetary award will be included in the employee's next regular paycheck. To generate payment, a non-standard payment form indicating the award amount must be submitted to the University Payroll Department. Time Off With Pay

All recognition programs granting time off with pay must be approved by the Provost, Executive Vice President, or Chancellor. Time off may be awarded in the following increments:

  • eight (8) hours for a significant contribution that benefits a program or department;
  • sixteen (16) hours for a significant contribution that benefits multiple programs or departments; and
  • twenty-four (24) hours for a significant contribution that benefits the entire University.

Staff members may not receive more than a total of forty (40) hours of time off with pay per calendar year, regardless of the number of different awards received. Departments granting staff members time off with pay are responsible for all related costs, including temporary staffing.

4. Funding

Funding for recognition programs may come from various sources.  Vice presidents, deans, and directors shall set aside funding to support recognition programs for their respective areas. Department heads may set aside funds for non-monetary and/or monetary award programs. Expenditures cannot be directly charged to sponsored program accounts. In addition, expenditures for staff recognition programs must be identified as "F & A Excludable" on expenditure documents to ensure they are excluded from cost pools used to calculate the University's indirect cost rate. Refer to UAP 2410 ("Accounting for Federally-Defined Allowable and Unallowable Costs") for additional information.

5. Taxability

Recognition awards, both monetary and non-monetary, may result in taxable income to the employee. In accordance with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations, all monetary awards, including cash and cash equivalent awards such as gift certificates and savings bonds, regardless of the amount, result in taxable income to the employee and are subject to federal and state income tax and social security withholding. Monetary award amounts will be reduced by withholding requirements based on each individual's income situation. Non-monetary awards of a personal nature may result in taxable income to an employee depending on the nature of the award. Non-monetary awards of a professional nature, such as conference training and professional association memberships do not result in taxable income.

6. Program Administration

The Division of Human Resources can help guide nomination/selection committees with the administration of recognition programs.