MLK Leadership Awards

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Awards

The MLK Leadership Awards are given annually to students, alumni, staff, groups, and faculty members who embody the spirit of Dr. King’s work.

“Service to the community” is defined in the broadest sense and includes academic, research, religious, and secular contributions in which integrity, leadership, creativity, and positive outcome are apparent.

Submit a nomination

Nomination tips

Here are some guidelines for writing an effective nomination.

  • Describe how your nominee meets the criteria “service to the community.” Write in detail regarding academic, research, religious, or secular contributions.
  • Avoid jargon. While you are familiar with your nominee’s work, it is likely the members of the selection committee won’t be.
  • Include measurable results when possible (e.g., new or improved programming, new ways of enabling diversity and inclusion, improvements to morale, etc.).
  • Use multiple examples of how the individual or organization went above and beyond.
  • Get support. Split up the areas (academic, research, religious, or secular) and/or award criteria (integrity, leadership, creativity, positive outcomes) with co-nominators to share writing the nomination, and ask others who may work with the nominee to submit statements in support of the nomination.
  • Keep recognizing. If you submitted an MLK Leadership Award nomination last year, consider revising it and citing new examples of contributions made over this year.

If you have questions or comments, please contact

Professor Wesley L. Harris

Professor Wesley L. Harris was the 2001 recipient of the 40th MLK Jr. Celebration Lifetime Achievement award. This is a special award given only during decennial celebrations to acknowledge a community member who has given in dedicated service to the MIT Community. Dr. Harris served as professor from 1972-79 and then again from 1996 to the present. He was also the first Director of MIT’s Office of Minority Education from 1975 to 1978. Dr. Harris served as department head in Aeronautics and Astronautics, Housemaster for New House Residence Hall, and as the Associate Provost for Faculty Equity. He was honored for his ongoing commitment to ensuring that all students achieve academically at MIT and for his work on increasing diversity among the faculty.

Previous MLK Leadership Award recipients

For a complete list of all previous MLK Leadership Award recipients, by year, visit the MLK Scholars website.