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The University of Utah’s Beacons of Excellence Award was introduced in 2012 through a partnership between the Office of Undergraduate Education and the Division of Student Affairs. As part of the University’s campaign to transform the undergraduate experience, the goal of the award is to recognize and celebrate the outstanding people, programs or projects who have helped make the University a Beacon of Excellence through their commitment to providing an exceptional student education. 

This year’s nominations celebrated people, programs, or projects that positively influenced students’ learning experiences and the campus during COVID-19.


Dr. Debra Mascaro

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Mechanical Engineering

With the sudden changes brought on by COVID-19, Dr. Mascaro was charged with making an incredible in-person experience for students into an amazing online educational experience. Dr. Mascaro spent hours making sure her course really worked for students newly restricted to learning at home. Dr. Mascaro is a role model and a Beacon of Excellence filled with an unstoppable can-do spirit.

Juan Rios

Administrative Assistant, Student Success and Empowerment

Day in and day out students benefit from Juan's commitment and care without ever meeting him. His patience to listen and truly hear what a student's concerns are is unmatched only to his tenacity to support a student towards resolution of a problem, navigation through or around a barrier, and in pursuit of degree completion. Juan truly is a Beacon of Excellence at the University of Utah.

Megan Randall

Career Coach, Career & Professional Development Center

Megan Randall has guided hundreds of students she has never met through the dozens of worksheets on career searching, cover letter writing, and interviewing she has created as resources. Megan perfectly personifies the "student-first" philosophy and more importantly, she wholeheartedly believes in you. Little wonder she is a Beacon of Excellence.

Student Success Center

College of Social & Behavioral Science

Over the past 5 years, the CSBS Student Success Center has transformed undergraduate student support in one of the largest colleges at the U and is providing exceptional service to students who receive maximum care as the they navigate college and beyond. Each advisor goes out of their way to make sure students are well equipped to be the solution and will make positive change and impact in the world. 

Fine Arts Fees (FAF) Grants 

College of Fine Arts

The Fine Arts Fees Grant Program is designed to help students fund their work and to give them valuable learning experiences creating and presenting grants. In the process they learn how to draft a grant, advocate for the arts and work collaboratively to accomplish their goals. All real-world skills. And creating Beacons of Excellence in the Arts that will continue to lift a weary world.


Center for Science and Mathematics Education

The REFUGES program is a unique after school program for middle to high school students, which exposes them to higher education and areas of STEM. This program is a bridge that builds confidence, skills, and a sense of belonging needed to succeed in college. This Beacon of Excellence recipient program is truly making a world of difference in the lives of youth from around the world.

Office of Health, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

School of Medicine

If there was ever a year for the School of Medicine Office of Health, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to put its mission to work, it was this year. With the onslaught of COVID-19, OHEDI responded by collecting critical supplies for Utah's Tribal Nations. And while the threat of Coronavirus hasn’t ended, this Beacon of Excellence is an example of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion put to work to save lives.
Last Updated: 10/29/21