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Cornell University

Perkins Prize and SCL Awards

The James A. Perkins Prize for Interracial & Intercultural Peace & Harmony

2022 Update: The Perkins Prize and SCL Awards will be paused this year to provide student organizations and programming departments with the time to think critically and be innovative in the development of new initiatives and programs as we continue to face the evolving impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Perkins Prize and SCL Awards are a highlight for the Office of the Dean of Students. We look forward to a time when the pandemic is behind us, our teams are full, and Cornell students and departments have a greater sense of normalcy so that they have space to build connection across differences and through dialogue.

Trustee Thomas W. Jones '69 has chosen to endow The James A. Perkins Prize for Interracial and Intercultural Peace and Harmony for the recognition of the Cornell student, faculty, staff member, or program making the most significant contribution to furthering the ideal of university community while respecting the values of racial diversity.This $5,000 prize is awarded at a special ceremony each spring. Other individuals devoted to advancing University community through intercultural understanding and harmony will also be honored.The Perkins Prize will be awarded with the understanding that the money will be used to further projects which promote intercultural understanding and harmony at Cornell University.

Questions? Please contact

Perkins Prize Criteria

In order to complete the application you will need to upload a letter of nomination (400-500 words) addressing the criteria for each award you are submitting a nomination as well as a photo of the program, organization or event.

Perkins Prize

  • Nominees will be reviewed based on exhibiting the following criteria over the last 12 months
  • The number and diverse identities of students participating in a sustained level of involvement, which leads to a set of accomplishments;
  • The extent to which these accomplishments promote common values and shared community standards among diverse students; and
  • The extent to which these accomplishments enhance the abilities of students to work with, live with, and learn from individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, beliefs, identities and cultural perspectives.

How to Apply

Nominations will be accepted beginning March 1, 2021. In order to complete the application you will need to upload a letter of nomination (400-500 words) addressing the criteria for each award you are submitting a nomination as well as a photo of the program, organization or event.

Please visit our Perkins Prize and SCL Diversity and Inclusion Award online application form. Questions? Please email

Student & Campus Life Diversity and Inclusion Awards

Last year Student & Campus Life (SCL) created the Diversity and Inclusion awards to recognize the contributions of student organizations and student leaders that create an inclusive Cornell community. All awards will honor students and or student organizations who have notably played a role in uplifting SCL’s diversity and inclusion values. 

Student Organization of the Year Award:

 Awarded to one undergraduate student organization and one graduate or professional organization, to recognize a group that has successfully demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion, exemplifying their overall mission and purpose through campus engagement that made a lasting impact on the campus community.

  • Demonstrates evidence of meeting organizational purpose and goals

  • Demonstrates engagement across campus to make a positive impact on diversity and inclusion efforts
  • Demonstrates creativity and perseverance through their programs and outreach
  • Actively promote an inclusive environment

Transformational Leader Award: Awarded to a one undergraduate student and one graduate/professional student who has established a legacy of transformative leadership that contributed to an inclusive environment and has made a valuable contribution to student communities and the broader Cornell community

  • Inspires others to take up the mantle to become a leader on an issue, project, or in an organization

  • Has made a valuable contribution and lasting impact within student communities and/or the broader Cornell community
  • Actively promotes an inclusive environment

Quiet Influence Award:  This award is presented to an undergraduate student or student organization whose significant effort in the area of diversity and inclusion by building up or influencing others. This individual or group engages in this work, often times under the radar, showing a commitment to listening, influencing and/or winning over others to make noticeable contributions to the campus community.

Complete the application and upload letters and photo. (A preview of the application questions are below)

Perkins Prize and SCL Diversity and Inclusion Awards Application Questions

Nominator Information:

Information about the Nominee:
Are you nominating a....

College (if applicable)
Class Year if Applicable)

Please attach a nomination letter addressed to the nomination committee detailing how your program and/or group meets the criteria for each selected award in 400-500 words.

Please attach a single file with pictures of your event/group/student leaders.

If nominating a group/organization, please attach a list of the participants that should be recognized.

Tom Jones Biography

Trustee Emeritus Thomas W. Jones

Thomas Wade Jones came to Cornell University in 1965, at a time when the university, under the leadership of President James A. Perkins, was undertaking a successful effort to increase the enrollment of black students. Mr. Jones was elected freshman class president, was a member of the student judicial board, and was a student-government activist before becoming involved in the controversial takeover of Willard Straight Hall in 1969. Though personally conflicted about the decision to occupy the student union, he believed in the importance of solidarity and became the spokesman for the takeover group, addressing an audience of thousands at Barton Hall two days after the peaceful resolution of the takeover.

Mr. Jones remained at Cornell for the completion of his bachelor’s degree in government in 1969 and his master’s degree in regional planning in 1972. While most of the students who led the Willard Straight confrontation left Cornell shortly thereafter, Mr. Jones continued studying for his master’s degree and worked to make the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell a reality. He led the efforts to write the proposal for the program and was one of the first students to approach Professor James E. Turner about becoming the center’s first director.

Mr. Jones is founder and principal of TWJ Capital LLC, a private equity investment firm located in Stamford, Connecticut. Mr. Jones was chairman and chief executive officer of Global Investment Management at Citigroup from 1999 to 2004, and also served as chairman and chief executive officer of Citigroup Asset Management. Mr. Jones joined Travelers Group as vice chairman and director in 1997 and served as chairman and chief executive officer of Salomon Smith Barney Asset Management. Prior to joining Travelers Group, Mr. Jones was vice chairman and director of TIAA-CREF from 1989 to 1995 and president and chief operating officer from 1993-1997. From 1989-1993 he served as executive vice president of finance and planning and chief financial officer of TIAA-CREF.

From 1982-1989 Mr. Jones was senior vice president and treasurer of the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company in Boston. He spent the previous eleven years in public accounting and management consulting, primarily with Arthur Young & Company in Boston. During this time, Mr. Jones became a certified public accountant and earned an MBA from Boston University.

Former Winners

The James A. Perkins Prize for Interracial & Intercultural Peace & Harmony

2019 Community Learning and Service Partnership (CLASP)

2018 South Asian Council

2017 Breaking Bread

2016 Mixed at Cornell

2015 Dining with Diverse Minds

2014 Intergroup Dialogue Project

2013 Cornell Bridges to Community

2012 Cornell DREAM Team: Cornell Dreaming

2011 Committee for the Advancement of Muslim Culture

2010 Cornell Farmworker Program


Student & Campus Life Diversity and Inclusion Awards


Graduate/Professional Student Organization of the Year Award: 

Healthcare Student Association
CBE Women

Undergraduate Student Organization of the Year Award:
Dyson Student of Color Coalition

Transformational Leadership Award:
Sabrina Sugano